Local News

SBI Won't Review Durham PD's Handling of Lacrosse Case

Posted May 15, 2007 7:16 a.m. EDT

— Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday that the State Bureau of Investigation would not perform an independent review of the Durham Police Department's handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

But, in response to Durham Mayor Bill Bell's request for an outside probe, he said he would compile a list of law enforcement experts who could.

"The SBI conducts criminal investigations, and since no criminal investigation was requested, the SBI was not the appropriate agency to conduct the review," attorney general spokeswoman Noelle Talley said.

Bell's request comes after a police department report last week in which Durham police Chief Steve Chalmers outlined investigators' handling of the criminal case.

In part, the report stated that the relationship District Attorney Mike Nifong had with defense attorneys hampered the investigation. It also stated that a controversial photo lineup in which the accuser identified her alleged attackers, wasn't meant for that purpose.

But Bell said the report "lacked focus" and failed to clearly identify Nifong's role in the investigation.

At least three City Council members, including Eugene Brown, agree that another look at the police department is needed, despite City Manager Patrick Baker saying last week it was not necessary.

"It certainly was not the finest hour for the Durham Police Department," Brown said, suggesting retired police officers from throughout the state review the case.

"I don’t think it should be any so-called community leaders involved with it," he said. "This is a police issue, and they’re the ones that should conduct the investigation."

Cooper's office took over the investigation in January after Nifong recused himself amid ethics charges by the North Carolina State Bar. Last month, Cooper dismissed the case against David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

The three were initially charged with rape, kidnapping and sexual assault, but Nifong dropped the rape charges in December when the accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum, changed details in her story.

"Our city has been in bed with the mendacities and the deception for 13 months with this case," Brown said. "We need to get to the truth, and we need this independent review.”