Family files lawsuit against city for evidence in fatal shooting

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN— The family of a Detroit woman shot and killed by Dearborn police Jan. 27, has sued the city for information pertaining to the shooting.

Moss & Colella attorney Vince Colella filed the lawsuit on March 24 asking the city for evidence from the shooting, including police dash camera video and 911 dispatch audio.

Colella previously filed a Freedom of Information Act form with the city was denied the evidence under a Michigan criminal procedure statute involving “materials obtained pursuant to an investigative subpoena,” according to the request.

“The dash cam video and audio are ‘records’ required to be maintained by the Dearborn Police Department and were not secured by the city in response to an investigational subpoena,” Colella said in a statement.

Janet Wilson, 31, was shot multiple times near The Henry Hotel after she drove away from Fairlane Town Center security Jan. 27.

As police attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Hubbard Drive near the Southfield Service Drive, the woman reportedly tried to run over an officer when we got out of his vehicle.

The officer reportedly drew his weapon and fired multiple shots. Wilson was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Wilson’s death a homicide due to the multiple gunshot wounds.

Michigan State Police took over the investigation after the incident occurred.

Colella said he also requested information from the Michigan State Police’s investigation of the incident.

“While the MSP has issued a letter indicating it would comply, the deadline for producing the materials expired on March 22 with no disclosures being made,” Colella said in a press release. “Given the delay in producing the materials, I expect that the state will deny our FOIA request under the ‘criminal investigation’ exemption.”

Colella also “served notice on the Michigan Court of Claims on his intent to bring a FOIA action against the state for its denial, as well,” according to the release.

“The government bears a heavy burden of justifying nondisclosure of information requested under FOIA,” he said in the release. “With police violence cases under intense scrutiny, transparency is the cornerstone of maintaining positive community relations with law enforcement. The unnecessary delay in the release of video footage fosters a culture of distrust.”

Neither the Dearborn Police Department nor Michigan State Police along with city of Dearborn representatives responded for comment by press time.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)

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