Judge: Detroit Mayor Assault Charges Stand

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sits in court during an emergency bond appeal hearing in front of Judge Thomas Jackson at the Wayne County Third Circuit Court, August 8, 2008 in Detroit.
AP Photo/Bryan Mitchell
A judge ruled Friday that there's enough evidence for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to stand trial on two felony assault charges stemming from a confrontation with two investigators.

The investigators testified that an angry Kilpatrick shoved one of them into the other and made racial remarks while they were trying to deliver a subpoena in the mayor's perjury case to a Kilpatrick friend last month.

Judge Ronald Giles made the ruling after hearing several hours of testimony and arguments in 36th District Court. The mayor remains free on bond ahead of an Aug. 22 arraignment in Wayne County Circuit Court. He must wear an electronic ankle tether.

The judge said there was no evidence the mayor's actions were an accident and said there was no question Kilpatrick was aware that Wayne County sheriff's Detective Brian White and county prosecutor's investigator JoAnn Kinney were there to perform official business.

White says the mayor shoved him into Kinney when he was trying to deliver the subpoena.

"It's clear Kilpatrick knew who Detective White was. He had previous contact with him through his other case," Giles said in his ruling. "He specifically called him by name in this case."

Kilpatrick's attorneys have denied an assault took place.

Outside the court, defense lawyer Jim Thomas said when the case moves to the trial court, he will peck away at what he said were inconsistencies between the testimony of White and Kinney. He called the investigators' visit to the house a set up.

It was the mayor's third day in court this week related to his legal troubles. Kilpatrick's wife, Carlita, also was in court for Friday's hearing.

Kilpatrick and his former top aide, Christine Beatty, were charged in March with conspiracy, perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office, mostly tied to their testimony in a civil trial.

Sexually explicit text messages between the pair, published by the Detroit Free Press in January, contradict their denial of an affair, a key point in the trial last year involving a former deputy police chief.

White testified Friday that he and Kinney were delivering subpoenas for witnesses in the perjury case when White spotted a truck he believed belonged to one witness parked in front of a house.

White said he rang the door bell and told a man who opened the door he was looking for Bobby Ferguson. Testifying earlier, Kinney said the man identified himself as Ferguson's brother and said Ferguson wasn't there.

White testified that Kilpatrick then charged through the door, swore at him, told him to get off the porch and shoved him.

"The defendant charged at me," White said. "He grabbed me with both hands on my shoulder. ... At that point, I hit investigator Kinney. I was thrown into her."

White and Kinney both testified Kilpatrick used the F-word in describing them while urging his security detail to get them off the porch. They said the mayor also made racial remarks about her and White.

"You're a black woman," Kinney quoted the mayor as telling her. "You should be ashamed of yourself being with a man with the last name White. You should not be a part of this."

White is white. Kinney and Kilpatrick are black.

"He was very, very angry," she said.

White and Kinney also testified about the incident last month during a hearing about Kilpatrick's bond conditions.

Another Kilpatrick lawyer, Jim Parkman, mainly questioned Kinney's recollection of where she was standing on the porch and how the mayor may have grabbed White. Parkman asked her if in fact she might not have been on the porch at all.

"Sir, I was on the steps, trust me," Kinney said.

"I wish I could," Parkman responded.

An audiotape in which the detective apparently jokes about the case was played by the defense. On the tape, White asks a police dispatcher to "change the header to assault on a police officer — and fondling."

Asked to explain the remark, White told the court: "This was very stressful to me personally. I was under a lot of stress. My way of alleviating stress is to make light of things."

Giles is the same judge who on Thursday ordered that Kilpatrick must keep wearing an electronic tether as part of his bond. He also tossed the mayor in jail last week on a bond violation in the perjury case.

At Friday's hearing, Doug Baker of the Michigan attorney general's office protested to Giles over defense lawyers' release to the news media of part of the tape Thursday, saying it was an improper effort to influence the legal proceedings.

"I think it's in violation of ethical rules which talk about a lawyer not releasing evidence that is likely to prejudice a proceeding," Baker said. "I think it's contemptuous of this proceeding on the part of the defense."

Thomas said County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, whose office is handling the perjury case against Kilpatrick, has repeatedly made public comments on the cases against the mayor.

Giles said he would not immediately act on the request.