Conflicting statements given under oath by a Detroit Police officer are raising questions about his credibility and could give an indicted former deputy chief ammunition to fight her prosecution.
In two sworn statements provided over the course of a year, Officer Kenyatta Myers gave seemingly contradictory answers regarding his role in the department’s selection of tow companies.
The conflicting statements emerged after former Deputy Chief Celia Washington was indicted earlier this year, accused of taking bribes in exchange for steering towing contracts. At the time her indictment was announced, Chief James Craig called her alleged conduct a “significant betrayal to this organization, this department and this city."
In 2016, deposed in an unrelated case, Officer Myers testified that “I am the person that is in charge of the police authorized towers.” When lawyers pressed him, he was unequivocal.
“Was there anybody else involved in the process…?” a lawyer asked Myers.
“No,” he replied.
“Did you consult with anybody?” Myers was asked.
“No,” he responded.
“Advice from anyone else?” he was asked.
Myers replied: “No.”
But in October 2017 in a sworn affidavit submitted by the city, Officer Myers gave a different story, saying that when it came to towing contracts, he “worked under the direction of DC Washington,” saying she “had the lead role in this process” that the feds now say was corrupt.
“In my ten years of law practice, I have no better example of inconsistent statements than his affidavit and his transcripts,” said Marc Deldin, an attorney for Nationwide Recovery.
Nationwide was a longtime tower for DPD until this past July, when the city suspended its towing permit without explanation. Later, it claimed that Nationwide was involved in a scheme to steal cars.
Company officials deny this, have never been charged and filed a lawsuit against the city for suspending the company’s permit. That’s the suit that uncovered the inconsistent statements of Officer Myers.
“He took two separate oaths and he told two separate stories,” Deldin said. “Both of them cannot be true.”
“Why would it help the city’s argument for this affidavit to be true?” asked Channel 7’s Ross Jones.
“The city wants to establish what I’m calling the Celia Washington defense,” Deldin said. “And that’s that Celia Washington ran everything, she created these rules. This is all completely false.”
When city lawyers were notified of Myers’ conflicting statements, they had them withdrawn and stricken from the court record. A spokeswoman for Chief James Craig declined comment, but said they were looking into Myers’ testimony.
Whether Washington or Myers was in charge of the towing contacts will be argued in court, but in the short term, according to former federal prosecutor Peter Henning, the conflicting testimony raises questions about Officer Myers’ credibility.
“One of these is true, and the question is which one?” Henning said. “And only through some mental gymnastics could you claim that they’re consistent.”
In a statement, the city’s Deputy Corporation Counsel argued that both of Myers’ statements were true.
“In his deposition, Officer Myers was focusing on the involvement of sworn police personnel in the permit process and not on the involvement of Ms. Washington, a civilian attorney,” Raimi said.
But Henning said attorneys for the city would have a hard time making that argument in court.
“The lawyers asked (Myers) very open-ended questions—"Did you speak with anyone else?"—which means it’s going to be very difficult to say I thought it only meant, for example, uniformed personnel,” Henning said. “They are almost completely irreconcilable. “
On top of that, Henning says, Myers’ inconsistencies could have the unintended consequence of hurting the feds’ case against Washington, or at least making it harder to win.
“(Washington) could point the finger at someone else, and now you have someone who has given apparently inconsistent statements,” Henning said.
“That could be a hurdle in the federal prosecution."