Durham Chief of Police Steve Chalmers continued the shameful defense of his department’s participation in the Nifong/Mangum Hoax in an interview with WRAL’s Julia Lewis following yesterday’s City Council meeting. Employing the strategy of finger pointing, denial, and deception that defined his laughable report to the City Council and Mayor, Chalmers:
- blamed City Manager Patrick Baker for the deficiencies in his report;
- blamed defense attorneys for his department’s having no exculpatory evidence prior to testifying before the Grand Jury;
- denied that his department ceded control of the investigation to rogue District Attorney Mike Nifong;
- falsely claimed that his investigators possessed no exculpatory evidence prior to duping the Grand Jury into bringing indictments against innocent men;
- incredibly claimed that his department was prepared to defend their investigation in court, apparently by pressing forward with the framing of the Duke Innocents at a trial;
- took credit for the idea of an investigation of his department's "investigation" by claiming to have requested the SBI conduct an investigation similar to that of an officer involved shooting.
Regarding exculpatory evidence prior to facing the Grand Jury, Chalmers declared to WRAL:
“We had none.”
Despite Chalmers' denial, his investigators were privy to the clearest evidence of factual innocence a full eight days before testifying to the Grand Jury on April 17, 2006. Both Inv. Benjamin Himan and Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, the two officers who personally deceived the Grand Jury, attended the same meeting with Dr. Brian Meehan of DNA Security, Inc. that resulted in the amended State Bar complaint against District Attorney Mike Nifong for withholding evidence from the defense attorneys. On April 10, 2006, Himan and Gottlieb learned from Meehan that DNA evidence recovered from Crystal Mangum’s nether regions and panties belonged to several men, none of whom were the innocent men his officers sought to frame or any other Duke Lacrosse player.
In describing the powerful evidence of factual innocence revealed to Defendant Nifong, Inv. Himan, and Sgt. Gottlieb by Dr. Meehan at the April 10 meeting, State Bar DHC Chair F. Lane Williamson stated at a recent hearing for Defendant Nifong:
We're talking about DNA testing that was done. And, of course, everybody--you know, whether it's justified or not--puts a lot of credence in that. And it's one thing to have--well, as a layman, I understand when the person who does the testing tells me, "I didn't find anything on these lacrosse players.
I also understand as a layperson if he tells me, "But we found DNA from other men." I also understand as a lawyer that it's one thing--you know, using the old thing--absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But here, knowing that there's testing that has found DNA from other people, that is evidence of absence. And I don't need to be--I don't need to understand anything about the science. That's all I need to understand.
Chalmers’ attempt to suggest that his officers had no exculpatory evidence prior to April 17, 2006 offers the clearest indication to date that Himan and Gottlieb intentionally ignored and withheld evidence of factual innocence from the Grand Jury while pleading for indictments of innocent men on behalf of the rogue District Attorney.