The City of Springfield is holding on to the internal affairs files of several former officers who were involved in lawsuits against the city years ago ... files that should be destroyed according to a recently changed policy.
The revelation of certain files being retained comes from filings in a case about the early destruction of some IA files. The files of Ricky Davis, Ranatta Frazier, Ralph Harris and others remain whole with the city, according to an affidavit filed in circuit court by the head of IA Chris Mueller. That raises questions for the plaintiff in a case against the city.
The affidavit from Mueller indicates the city has 26 files that are older than four years. The same affidavit says 26 other IA files were expunged on April 25th of this year, including the file of Deputy Chief Clifford Buscher, a file the city has already admitted it improperly destroyed. That file was also being requested by Calvin Christian.
A partial list from the Mueller's Affidavit
Live with 970 WMAY's Frank McNeil Show Monday, the plaintiff in a suit against the city over the improper destruction of files has more questions. Christian says he can't get a straight answer from the city about what the current retention policy is because of his ongoing lawsuits against the city. Christian asks why those officers' files were kept and another group of files over the four year retention policy were "expunged".
The files that have been kept are investigations of officers who have been gone from the force for longer than the four year retention policy. The retention policy of IA files was recently changed with a questionable memorandum of understanding. That MOU between top police brass and the police union was done without the consent of the Mayor.
In the ongoing case, the deposition of Christian requested is still uncertain as Christian's attorney's say Christian has reporter privilege. Christian says he will not turn over any information about his communications to the city because "as a reporter it is my right not to release it and I will not be releasing it." That sets up the potential of a judge ruling on the matter.
On the flip side, Christian says the city has yet to schedule the next deposition with Mayor Mike Houston. Houston, a few weeks ago, denied knowing of the file destruction beforehand, regardless of reports his assistant stumbled into the room where the change in retention and subsequent file destruction was being discussed. That was revealed in a deposition of former Police Cheif Robert Williams last month.
Christian has another lawsuit against the city and several police officers claiming a conspiracy to harass. He says there seems to be a culture of the harassment seen in an exchange between an arresting officer and dispatch. In chat logs obtained by Christian through the Freedom of Information, one officer responds "hahaha" to a report of Christian's arrest over a parking violation.