Monday, October 3, 2011

In Case You Missed It Shawn Massey Sues CMPD and Meck DA

Last week Shawn Giovanni Massey filed a lawsuit in Federal Court after spending 12 years behind bars for crimes he didn’t commit.


Massey on the right in 2010.

Massey was released from the Maury Correctional Institution last year after former Mecklenburg County District Attorney Peter Gilchrist secured a Superior Court order vacating Massey's conviction on multiple counts of second-degree kidnapping, as well as one count each of felonious breaking and entering and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Massey's federal lawsuit alleges that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers fabricated a witness statement saying Massey wore his hair in cornrows on the night of the attack. The victim had described her attacker as wearing the distinctive braids.

Massey was freed after a group of Duke University law students researched his case and compiled years of photos showing he always wore closely cropped hair, including a jail mug shot taken just 11 weeks before the crime.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $10,000.

A copy of the lawsuit is here.

More profound is the case file and summary from Duke Law School which is here.

The short version is that Massey who was no stranger to CMPD was a prime suspect in the crime but cultural differences, and an overbearing assistant district attorney pushed the case along even though there was substantial doubt that the perp was really Massey.

CMPD detectives failed on several occasions to explore other suspects, or follow additional leads, instead focusing on building a case against Massey.

In the end Massey could not have been the perp based on the victims identification because his hair was too short for cornrows.

Cedar's Take: Officers did their part, but the system failed when in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary officers and the Mecklenburg DA's office pressed on with the case. What seems lost is that justice is not a conviction, justice is the truth. In this case the truth is Massey was not guilty of these crimes. Those that stand in the way of the truth also stand in the way of justice.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

'Leaders' in this town don't feel truth=justice. They play odds on what will come to light, how long they can delay it, and see if the costs that go into doing that outweigh the the potential lawsuits. Meanwhile, years pass while lives are ruined. How long will this go on before there is federal intervention? I hope the attorneys in this case are catalysts for a wider investigation.

Anonymous said...

"Those that stand in the way of the truth also stand in the way of justic"

So very well said Cedar.

Ghoul said...

I am stunned by this story! You mean a Mecklenburg DA pressed a crime case and sent someone to prison for 12 years? This is more than most murderers got last Friday.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many hundred other possibly legitimate cases will now have to be reviewd and tossed, and how many other possibly illegitimate cases will now need to be reviewed an tossed because of the 'late discovery' that people in positions of power didn't do what they were supposed to do? How many lives have been destroyed in the mean time? How much money will it cost, just to review? How much in lawsuits?

How much court time will it take up while we want actual criminals to be tried--on a legitimate basis--to be locked up and keep us safe?

Every time there is a discovery like this that the DA knew about or one of the bad cops that lied on the stand, lied in his notes, broke the law, and especially when it wasn't the first time--we are less safe, not more. Integrity goes to the top. Now Gilcrist says he knew about this? I could be a basis to kick every case this team was involved in... at least call for a review. The City settled Jackson's cases so far because Monroe admitted he should have known. The cases aren't over. Fant was fired for tearing up his notes and more. How many more will there be?

Anonymous said...

He sued CMPD and the Meck DA?

Am I missing something?

It's a suit against several named officers and John Does.

Neither CMPD nor DA is listed as a Defendant.

Anonymous said...

There are ALWAYS two sides to every story......your rush to judgment is appalling!

The Officers involved will be able to give a rebuttal in due time.

And just because "Duke" is involved does not mean it is the gospel....lawyers make mistakes all the time.....I imagine "not quite real lawyers" make even more.

Rush to judgement can bite you in the ass......

Anonymous said...

10:50 BITE ME!

Rush to judgment you are kidding right? 12 years I don't think there was any rush and it seems the officers had plenty time to build their case. Bunch of rouge cops just busting who ever they think looks good enough.

Sure bite me in the ass!

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:43
"Bite me"? That's all you've got?? Oh yes, also "Bite me in the ass".....wow, you seem to be a real intellectual.

You are an ignorant, ignorant fool.

Yes, jackass, rush to judgement on the Officers.....you are accusing them of lying??? "Witnesses" lie all the time.

This is more about money than justice, I would bet on it.

Anonymous said...

sit in jail for 14 years and think about it. let us know what you decide.
don't want to? make sure you don't ever cross paths with any of the few inept or corrupt CMPD or DA or magistrate employees, because chances are rare of an honest mistake or an intentional abuse EVER being fixed. too much energy goes into covering up the problems. it's incredible damage to a human life. it's completely avoidable if the people in charge follow laws, rules, policies, procedures, directives.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:53
Once again, a rush to judgement .....one group thinks they are the final arbiters and they don't make mistakes...they make mistakes, too.

It will play out in the courts...

Anonymous said...

There is no rush to judgment and there will be no "playing out in the courts"

This case is a slam dunk NC law aready provides for payment these officer should be glad that they are not being hight with crimes beyond just civil coiuerts.

Anonymous said...

So it really is just about getting a check.....interesting.

Anonymous said...

4:49 you're an idiot. it's about justice and when there is such blatent abuse by the ones in power, the outcome is obvious. that is the meaning.
the larger meaning is that house cleaning and major reform is needed. if the people in power aren't held to a higher standard, how can we ever get the actual criminals off the street--and with confidence, integrity, and true authority?

Anonymous said...

I think everyone is missing the point that this person was tried and convicted by a jury. Believe me, Shawn Massey did not just arbitrarily come up with all this "new evidence" as he was sitting in jail. This evidence and the results of it were in the file and had obviously been reviewed during his appeals. To believe that the officers are the ones who are lying in this case is ignorant. There was also a victim, who testified in court. There was a jury who heard the case and believed the DA and subsequently convicted Shawn Massey. This is simply about money. But since it is, it's surprising he is not going after the department or the DA's office. The officers don't prosecute anyone. As any officers know, the DA's office controls every case once the arrest has been made. To think the officers did anything wrong and everyone else did everything right is again, being ignorant.

Anonymous said...

After the hearing, though, the victim told the prosecutor told her she no longer had any doubt after seeing and hearing the suspect in court.

Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/09/24/2633981/police-sued-for-10-million.html#ixzz1Zx5uNpCu

And it is always the police officers at fault.

Anonymous said...

that's the problem when you allow something to be tainted, and support the people and the system of leadership that protects people who do wrong things and keep the tainted things hidden. everything becomes dirty, suspect, and impossible to hold above reproach.
CLEAN HOUSE.

Anonymous said...

Apparently no one remembers the prevalance of "corn row" wigs that were a fad around that time

Anonymous said...

Corn Row wigs? LOL that's a stretch.

I don't think asking for 10,000 says it is about money.

Even if they paid him min wage for his time we are well pas 6 figures.

Cops put a case together someone on the DA staff or CMPD withheld evidence.

Seems like a cut and dry case.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:51pm. Why do you think someone withheld evidence? The victim saying they are uncertain to the DA in a conference is not discoverable. If they make a statement that says, "the guy who robbed me is 6'5"" and the guy who is on trial is 5'5" then yes, that is discoverable as it is exculpatory evidence. But if that were the case, no DA in their right mind would proceed with the case. And what happened during the cross examination. Are you telling me the defense attorney didn't try to discredit the victim and throw reasonable doubt into the jury's minds about the identification? Yeah right. They always do that no matter what.

And Shawn Massey isn't asking for $10,000. He's asking for that PLUS an appropriate amount, which I'm sure will be divulged in court. This is all about money and nothing else.

Now if by some chance the officers did withhold evidence that was exculpatory, then yes, they should pay for that. If they did something wrong, then they should and will pay. However, I highly doubt the officers did that.

Anonymous said...

The amount over $10,000 is a legal disclosure issue. It's basically a declaration that they plan to exceed that threshhold amount--could be by hundreds of thousands or millions. Could be $10,001, but I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Because they released him from prison, there must have been some pretty clear evidence, but as far as the officer, it seems that the issue is this...

From the Duke investigation...

"the testimony of Officer
G. J. Esposito that April Pride Thompson, Shawn’s friend, allegedly told him that
on the day of the crime Shawn wore his hair “pulled back with 4 or 5 braids at the
back,” which matched exactly Ms. Wood’s description of the perpetrator. At
trial, however, Ms. Thompson testified that Shawn’s hair was cut short on the day
in question and denied that she told Officer Esposito that Shawn had braids".

The DA also withheld 7 8X10 photos that had been taken a short time prior to the incident, showing his short hair. Duke found those photo's in the file.

Anonymous said...

The question isn't whether the DA withheld them at the trial, but whether the DA withheld them from the defense.

The DA presents their case to the jury and the defense does the same. If the DA did not share those photos with the defense, then they have a discovery issue. If they did and the defense did not use them, that is the defense's fault, not the DA's fault.

Also, if the DA is the one at fault, why aren't they named? Why just the officers? And what is more likely, the defendant's friend lying the day it happened or at the trial?

Anonymous said...

anon 12:36...

OMG ...No one said they were withheld at trial. they were withheld from the defense.

If you want to say that they just let him out of jail with no proof of a tainted trial, just go right ahead and defend till the end.

There lies the problem with CMPD today. too many willing to support wrongdoing and blame everybody else even when faced with the facts. It is ridiculous.

If you do not like it when the command staff does this to you, then you should not support it when other officers do it to civilians.

CrimeInCharlotte.com said...

Well said Cedar.