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Cops In "blue Magic" Case Revealed

Cops In "blue Magic" Case Revealed image
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A highly reliable source has provided ilic SUN with the ñames of five Ann Arbor pólice officers wlio participated in the search and deten t ion of members of I he Pliiladelphia-based Blue Magie band mi May 10 in Pittsfield Township. The musicians have filed a SI 2 million civil rights action in Detroit Federal Court againsl W;ishtcnaw Coonty Sheriffs deputies William Tommclein and Randel Evans as a result of treatment they received while in custody of the deputies and Ann Arbor pólice. The band charges that ihe law officers physically and verbally abuscd Ihem lollowing their arrest on an erroneous concealed weapon report. The Ann Arbor officers named were: PhillipG. Scheel of Ann Arbor, a three year pólice vetèran; Robert Haarer of Dexter. 30 years old;Walter Johnson; Steven Prussian;and David Woodside. According to the informant, olïicer Woodside was present only briefly at the scène of the search, ai riving at 5 :27am and leaving at 5:42. Officers Prussian and Johnson were present for about an hour and a half, bul were involved in the search of Blue Magic's second vehicle, a van, surrounding which no impropriety has been charged.. However, both Scheel and Haarer were present for one and one half hours during the search of the station wagon and its six passengers. The six charge that law officers beat them. threatened their lives and made various racial sluis against them (all six are black). Two also report that their wallets were stolen, containing a total of over $600. "l'm not authorized to say anything," officer Scheel responded when contacted by the SUN. "I hate to cut you off, but I really can't say anything. It would be up to my superiors to make any statement." The SUN was unable to reach any of the other officers involved. In response to questions submitted to them at the request of Mayor Wheeler all five Ann Arbor pólice officers reportedly denied seeing or participating in any misconduct during the search, although one stated that he saw a deputy "shovel" the wallet of one of the musicians into a pólice vehicle. However, all five officers may be called on to testify in the suit against the Sheriffs deputies, and there is a strong possibility that Scheel and Haarer will become defendants in Blue Magic's suit. "They can try to stonewall it like Nixon," stated attorney Mike Olive, an associate of Ivan Barris, representing Blue Magie. "If we make an independent evaluation," he continued, "that these Ann Arbor officers were involved (in misconduct) then we will sue them." Olive expressed satisfaction with the ongoing federal investigation of the Blue Magie incident, and also praised Sheriff Fred Postill and. his assistant Laird Harris; "They're a real big improvement over when 1 was in school and Doug Harvey was sheriff. Of course anyone would have been an improvement over Harvey." Postill fired Tommelein and Evans as a result of his own investigation of the incident. The FBI has apparently completed its probe of the case and recently turned over its findings to the Justice Department and Detroit's U.S. Attorney Ralph Guy for possible grand jury action. Meanwhile, SherifPs deputies Tommelein and Evans responded last week to Blue Magic's suit by denying that they engaged in any conduct not in keeping with "good pólice practice." The next stage in the case will be the taking of oral depositions from Tommelein and Evans, expected to begin soon, probably in August. Following that, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Gubow will set a trial date. Gubow is said to be quite experienced and knowledgeable in the area of civil rights law. "I'm glad we've got him," stated attorney Olive.