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Ammunition, Case Files Abandoned At Closed Crime Lab

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Closed Detroit Police crime lab is seen on 5/27/11 (WWJ Photo/Pat Sweeting)

Closed Detroit Police crime lab is seen on 5/27/11 (WWJ Photo/Pat Sweeting)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is calling for a Michigan State Police or other independent investigation into why evidence was left at the now-closed Detroit Crime Lab.  Worthy thought evidence, including live ammunition and case files containing crime victims social security numbers, had been moved out of the lab which was operating in an old school near Comerica Park.

“We were told that the evidence had been inventoried, packaged, and moved out of the old crime lab to a secure and appropriate location. We were told this was being done by the lab scientists under the direction,” Worthy said.

The lab was ordered closed in 2008 because of sloppy investigations. However, police apparently left behind piles of evidence in the building that has been open to trespassers.

“It is all disturbing.  It’s disturbing, number one, that the place was not secured. Number two, it’s disturbing what was found in there,” Worthy told WWJ Newsradio 950.

“I think that they should have no part in this investigation at all. We don’t know if it’s going to be found out that someone within the Detroit Police Department was responsible for all of this happening… we just don’t know. And we need an independent agency to look at it,” she said.

The Detroit Free Press said it discovered the ruins this week and notified police, which examined the former elementary school and posted security there Thursday night. As recently as Monday, the front door was ajar.

“I am extremely concerned and quite frankly appalled by the condition that the department’s former crime lab was left in after being de-commissioned in 2008,” said police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr., in a statement.

Godbee said he has spoken with MSP Director Colonel Kristie Etue, and plans to work together with the agency to correct the problem. “We’ll get to the bottom of it in a very short order,” he said.

“It should be noted that the building is secured and security has been provided for this location and nothing shall be removed from the
building to preserve the integrity of the investigation. Consistent with Mayor Bing’s commitment to transparency, we will fully cooperate
with this inquiry,” Godbee added.

The newspaper said it found computers, tools, cameras, microscopes, wireless phones, bulletproof vests, evidence kits and toxic chemicals. State police took over the handling of Detroit crime evidence when the lab was closed because of sloppy work, but it wasn’t responsible for removing what was left at the building.

Experts were shocked to hear about what’s still inside.

“It’s a crime lab. How do you not understand that you can’t just walk away from the equipment and supplies in the building?” said David Balash, a former state police firearms examiner whose work uncovered major problems with how Detroit police tested ballistics evidence.

Defense attorney William Winters III said some evidence at the old lab still is important for appeals. “What in the world is going on?” he asked the Free Press.

Deputy Mayor Saul Green was among those demanding answers. “Once we get a better sense of what happened, we’ll know how to deal with this situation,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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