As DEA defendants were being released on bond Thursday pending trial, reports of police and DEA misconduct in the arrests and related developments began to accumulate. By press time, the SUN had interviewed eight actual defendants and attorneys, friends, or relatives of a dozen others.
Some of the charges against police and DEA agents have yet to be corroborated—but they are no less substantial, at least, than those against the defendants. The charges against police are not currently being investigated by any law enforcement agency the SUN has contacted, and the SUN will continue to look into them. Among the allegations:
—Most defendants were asked to sign waivers of their "Miranda" rights against self-incrimination. Some said they were threatened, slapped around, and told they "had to sign" the waivers in the Ann Arbor police lockup and elsewhere. DEA agents pressured at least one defendant to inform on others.
—In one case agents allegedly aimed guns at a suspect who was holding a two-year-old child in his lap as they entered his house to arrest him. As they entered another house they allegedly waved guns around in the presence of at least four children. A DEA agent named Mary is said to have carelessly stepped on a baby as she rushed into the house.
—One defendant said he was hit from behind on the back of the head with a hard object by DEA agent Gary Wade after he had been disarmed and spread-eagled against the side of his car. A second told the SUN, "I got the fuck beat out of me." A third was reported to have been hit in the stomach with a rubber mallet. A fourth said agents slapped him around after he made disrespectful remarks. A fifth was reported to have been hit on the back of the head with a pistol. The SUN has received second-hand reports of such assaults on other defendants.
—On Wednesday night, as many as 15 persons were crowded for some 12 hours in the Oakland County Jail bullpen—which measures roughly 15 by 25 feet—while another cell stood empty nearby. Several told of seeing a man with three long freshly-stitched gashes on his head being thrown shirtless and shoeless onto the floor there. This man was apparently not arrested in connection with the drug raids.
—Many defendants told of being insulted, verbally abused, and in some cases threatened by officers holding them in custody.
—One defendant said a Michigan State Police Intelligence officer pointed to his defense lawyer, who was walking out of the Ann Arbor lockup area at the time, and muttered, "We'll get you next." Agents from the Washtenaw Area Narcotics Team (WANT) and the DEA are alleged by at least three persons to have taunted, "Tell it to the SUN," when they complained of abuses.
—The apartment of one defendant was burglarized and ransacked Thursday, and photo albums strewn on the living room floor. The only thing missing was a photograph of DEA agent Harold Wankel (alias Doug, Jerome, Alan, Al, and Jeff), who arrested that defendant.
—When SUN Art Director Barbara Weinberg attempted to sketch one of the DEA informants in court last Friday, the young woman informant tried to snatch her sketch pad. Weinberg, who was followed as she escaped down an elevator, was later ordered by the judge to surrender the sketch.—J.D.