Local News

Durham Police Chief Wanted Outside Probe of Lacrosse Case

Posted May 24, 2007
Updated May 27, 2007

— Durham's police chief said Thursday that he had wanted a third-party review into investigators' handling of the Duke lacrosse case, but City Manger Patrick Baker wanted to go ahead and release an internal report on the matter.

Talking for the first time about the case, Chief Steve Chalmers said he also wanted an in-depth detailed report, but that someone in Baker’s office told him to keep it to four to five pages.

Baker has said that the police report was never meant to be a comprehensive one.

“As a matter of fact, I would just like to clear the record and let it be known that I had actually requested a third-party review even prior to the mayor asking for one,” Chalmers told reporters. “I felt that was probably the best alternative for us from the start.”

Durham Mayor Bill Bell called for an outside review following on May 11 police department report that found no wrongdoing by investigators in the case. Bell said the report lacked focus and left questions unanswered about the yearlong criminal investigation of rape and sexual assault charges filed against three former lacrosse athletes.

Bell seemed a bit skeptical about Chalmers' claim, wanting to know why that wasn't known when the departmental report was released.

On Thursday, City Council members agreed, voting 6-1 to pursue another review that detailed officers' roles in the case, as well as that of District Attorney Mike Nifong.

"I've been analyzing over the last several days the evidence in this case, and I must say, I'm overwhelmed by the evidence and underwhelmed by our police department's response," council member Eugene Brown said in support of the outside investigation.

Councilwoman Diane Cattoti voted against the measure, saying she wasn't against an outside review, but she would not vote in favor of one without details and parameters.

Details of the review, including who will conduct it and how much it will cost, will be finalized at a June 1 meeting.

Chalmers also said Thursday that police led the investigation at all times and that investigators were willing to defend their actions in court, if necessary.

“We can explain roles and responsibilities and we can explain how this investigation went from the beginning right to the end,” Chalmers said.

He also criticized the City Council.

Council members "are perfectly willing to listen to the rumor mill and talk to anybody and everyone other than the police chief," he said. "I would have hoped they'd have at least enough respect for this organization to sit down one-on-one or in twos and say, 'help us to understand what happened here.'"

Earlier this month, Baker said, in part, that a tense relationship between the District Attorney's Office, police investigators and the defense team hampered the investigation, but he said he found no wrongdoing.

He also admitted that the overall investigation was flawed, but dismissed the criticism that Nifong directed the investigation.

Bell had initially asked the state Attorney General's Office to handle the independent review, but since it is not a criminal case, Attorney General Roy Cooper asked the State Bureau of Investigation to compile a list of law enforcement experts capable of such a review.

The list includes current and retired police chiefs from the Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville and Rocky Mount police departments.

The three former lacrosse players, David Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, were each indicted on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense last spring after Crystal Gail Mangum, an exotic dancer hired to perform at a team party in March 2006, claimed she was attacked.

After Mangum changed key details in her story, Nifong dismissed the rape charges on Dec. 22.

Special prosecutors with the Attorney General's Office took over the investigation in January, when Nifong recused himself from the case amid ethics charges by the North Carolina State Bar.

Cooper dropped the remaining charges April 11, citing a lack of evidence in the case, and declared all three men innocent.


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  • May 25, 2007

    Mayor Bell, you're in charge of the city. Be a man and accept responsibility for this mess. Chief Chalmers, you're in charge of Durham PD. Stop passing the buck. Mike Nifong will get his due from the NC State Bar Assoc. and NC Attorney General's office. There isn't anyone else to blame. Y'all have run Durham into the ground. It's a shame the citizens of Durham tolerate such blatant disregard for their city. They deserve better.

  • Duke 79 May 25, 2007

    "Why waste more money on this stupid case," you say? Because actual crimes WERE committed by the Durham police and Mike Nifong - witness tampering, generating a police "report" months later to fit around the alibis, and criminal civil rights violations. Do you really want a law enforcement agency like this "protecting" you?

  • Morrisville May 25, 2007

    I'm not even going to read all the posts. WHY waste more money on this stupid case that was false from the start. Are they trying to win still? She lied, end of story, THE END..................................................

  • uncalumni02 May 25, 2007


  • bluedevl... May 25, 2007

    wveagleson..."I think someone was paid off as well. I think the parents had something to do with this. I think something did happen, but we will never know about it."

    Yeh, but in real life it takes actual evidence to convict someone. Not what YOU think...

    The girl had "DNA" inside her from 5 (FIVE), yep, five! other men, none of which were any of the DUKE players.

    She admitted to being a liar and now Nifong is fighting for his life.

    nevermind....the case unfolded and fell apart due to the lies of Nifong and this girl.

    Were you also aware she did the same thing to some other guys a few years back?

    I hope she gets help....

  • wveagleson May 25, 2007

    I think someone was paid off as well. I think the parents had something to do with this. I think something did happen, but we will never know about it. These were drunken teens at a party that should not have happened and I think things got out of hand. The three boys who were accused had bonds of $400,000.00. They were out on bail within hours and the lawyers they hired don't exactly work pro bono.

    It's really funny how no one is talking about the threatening email that was sent the following day by one of the players who wasn't accused. It was something about smashing the head of that black b@*%# when she come through the door. They were planning another party.

    Oh, I guess Jessie and Al had something to with that too.

  • shawnjohn78 May 25, 2007

    BLUEDEVI, that part of my comment wasn't for you. Read other people comments as well. By the way GO TARHEELS, thats for you!!!!!!!!!!

  • bluedevl... May 25, 2007

    shawnjohn78....who said anything about race? Like I said it goes way beyond wrongfully accused.

  • shawnjohn78 May 25, 2007

    OK, lets stop living in the past with the OJ case. I am not even talking about race, I am talking about people that get wrongfully accused, black or white doesn't matter. If that was the case. A third party still needs to look over the reports.

  • bluedevl... May 25, 2007

    shawnjohn78..."I believe some people got paid off to be quite, in this case."

    You must be referring to the O.J. murder case.

    Has that killer been found yet?