Jay-Z's Roc Nation sues Kansas police agency, seeks misconduct records
In a statement, police said that state law does not require the release of personnel records
By Glenn E. Rice and Aarón Torres
The Kansas City Star
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Citing a history of alleged misconduct, a philanthropic organization led by rapper Jay-Z is seeking legal action against the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department seeking the release of investigative files, personnel records and officer misconduct allegations.
The legal request filed Monday in Wyandotte County District Court by Roc Nation's criminal justice division, Team Roc, said police officers have abused their authority, fabricated witness statements, planted evidence, concealed officer misconduct and solicited sexual favors from victims and witnesses.
"For decades, the KCKPD has failed to provide accountability for officer misconduct," according to the petition. "And, thanks to the blue veil of silence and apparent failure to investigate serious allegations, little of it has come to light."
The petition alleges that department officials refused to provide them with complaints filed against members of the police department's investigative division, reports or internal investigations against an officer who has a history of abuse allegations and policies relating to supervising detectives.
In a statement, KCKPD said they have released to the group hundreds of pages of documents under the Kansas Open Records Act with several exceptions. The state law does not require the release of personnel records and criminal investigation files, the department said.
"In response, Roc Nation has filed a 28-page petition stating there is a special interest in disclosing all records so the public can seek justice. Once the petition has been thoroughly reviewed, the Unified Government will follow-up by filing a response," the statement said.
Christina Sarchio, an attorney for Team Roc, said the police department provided operating procedures but less than a half of a dozen of misconduct complaints. Most were one page and the information was heavily redacted and very little follow up.
Sarchio said her group is asking the court to override the state law and make the documents public. The petition alleges the city has refused to produce documents on three separate requests.
If the requests are denied there is a mechanism under Kansas law that allows a plaintiff to file an action in court to request a judge review that request and force those records be released.
"The KCKPD has, however, refused to produce documents relating to any internal investigations into wrongdoing by specific members of the KCKPD, preventing the public from evaluating whether the KCKPD has adequately supervised its officers, investigated any complaints, and addressed the allegations of misconduct against members of its force," the petition said.
Allegations of officer misconduct
The petition listed numerous examples of officer misconduct and several officers who face criminal charges for allegations of misconduct.
In particular, the petition identified former detective Roger Golubski, who is accused of rape and was involved in a wrongful conviction that sent Lamonte McIntyre to prison for more than two decades.
Golubski worked for the Kansas City, Kansas, police department for 35 years.
McIntyre was freed in October 2017 after Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree Sr. stopped contesting the facts of his innocence during a hearing.
Cheryl Pilate and Lindsay Runnels, the attorneys who represented McIntyre and his mother Rose McIntyre said, in a written statement they were pleased that legal action has been filed.
"Their lawsuit seeking public records and information is in the public's interest and should help bring much-needed transparency and accountability, according to the statement.
The petition alleges that former police chief Terry Zeigler, "ignored misconduct and even crimes committed by officers, including sexual violence perpetrated by officers." The petition said Zeigler retired while facing scrutiny from local civil rights groups.
The department has been plagued by other controversies in recent years, including the conviction of an officer accused of sexual battery and an investigation of a former police chief on allegations he misused public property.
Roc Nation has worked on a number of social justice issues, helped victims of police brutality and provided scholarships for students of color. It is currently working with the Innocence Project, which helped secure McIntyre's release from prison.
Sarchio said releasing the documents is a public interest and would not interfere with any ongoing investigation, reveal the identity of confidential sources or undercover officer or expose any confidential investigative techniques or procedures.
"If we don't see that there were investigations, if we don't see that there was discipline, then we are going to push for prosecution, if necessary," she said. "We are going to demand that full investigations be conducted and that the individuals are disciplined to the maximum available by law."
This story was originally published September 21, 2021 12:52 PM.
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