KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A prominent national social justice organization intensified calls for a wide-sweeping probe into alleged misconduct within the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department.
Team Roc released a letter sent to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke on Dec. 20, 2021, urging the Department of Justice “to open a pattern-or-practice investigation” into allegations of decades of KCKPD police misconduct, according to a letter made public Monday.
"If you're a human being and you have a conscience, there's no way you can turn a blind eye to this," Dania Diaz, managing director of Team Roc, said.
Jay-Z serves as chairman of Team Roc, which is Roc Nation’s philanthropic organization with a focus on social-justice issues.
The organization also released an open letter to Associate U.S. Attorney General Vanita Gupta calling for the Department of Justice to “intensify its investigation into vast claims of corruption, coercion, rape, and murder committed or facilitated” by KCKPD members.
The letter to Clarke, which was released after a month passed with no response, said it’s past “time for the Department of Justice to take action,” because it’s “uniquely positioned to investigate the wrongdoing.” It accuses KCKPD of:
- Coercing, pressuring or improperly attempting to influence witness and defendant testimony;
- Tampering with or fabricating evidence;
- Harassment and retaliation toward women in KCKPD-patrolled neighborhoods;
- Inappropriate relationships and sexual encounters or arrangements with women in the community;
- Pushing for fabricated information, identifications and testimony in investigations;
- Denying identifications and retractions of testimony in other investigations;
- Failing to investigate or take action on additional cases.
"What we're seeing is a pattern of wrongdoing, a pattern of misconduct, a pattern that has been unchecked for quite some time," Diaz said, "And that it requires an independent source to come in, obviously the highest level, to really take a good look at those patterns."
The letter to Gupta — signed by Team Roc and Tricia Rojo Bushnell, executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project — takes issue with the DOJ’s “continued inaction,” saying that it sends a message to “targeted minority communities held hostage to the whims of the carceral state that justice does not exist for them, that their lives do not matter.”
It highlights the results of eight FBI investigations involving KCKPD in the 1990s, which included “significant evidence of depraved acts,” and suggests that federal inaction during the last 30 years amounts to tacitly condoning the conduct.
The FBI's investigations detail numerous complaints into KCK police officers that include excessive force, harassment, homicide, rape, stealing, assault and planting drugs.
The FBI concluded that unless officers were convicted, "the situation in Kansas City, Kansas will only deteriorate."
In October, the KCK police department admitted they've responded to FBI inquiries over the last two years. At the center of this federal probe is Roger Golubski, a former detective accused of exploiting and terrorizing Black residents in KCK for years. Golubski retired in 2010 and has not faced any charges related to the accusations.
“There is no excuse that can justify the DOJ’s silence,” the letter to Gupta said. “This is not a select group of bad apples within KCKPD. To be silent is to admit to victims and survivors of pervasive police violence in Kansas City, Kansas, and across this nation that the entire system is guilty.”
Diaz said Team Roc is optimistic.
"We will continue to raise the volume on this and really get attention to the situation," Diaz said. "We hope and we feel quite confident that the DOJ will be stepping in in a bigger way. That's what we want."
A KCK police department spokesperson told KSHB 41 News that "the new Roc Nation (letter) has no new content for us to comment about."
The social justice advocacy group announced in September 2021 that it had filed a lawsuit for records related to alleged misconduct within KCKPD after learning about ongoing and possibly systemic issues from the Midwest Innocence Project, which represented Lamonte McIntyre.
McIntyre was freed in October 2017 after 23 years in prison for a double murder he didn’t commit. He and his mother, Rose Lee McIntyre, sued the KCKPD and former Det. Roger Golubski, alleging that he was targeted after she rebuffed his sexual advances.
But decades of police misconduct go well beyond Golubski, Team Roc alleged. It has published many documents from the investigation at KCKCorruption.info.
Team Roc, which donated $1 million to the Midwest Innocence Project last year, took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post in October 2021.
The misconduct, according to the letter from Team Roc, has “resulted in the wrongful incarceration of innocent people and flagrant civil rights abuses of many Kansas City residents.”
A “blue wall of silence” perpetuates a pattern of racial and gender discrimination, which are exacerbated by “KCKPD’s failure to adequately supervise and train its officers,” attorney Alex Spiro with New York-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan LLP wrote in Team Roc’s letter to the Department of Justice.
Team Roc also posted a video on the Roc Nation YouTube channel entitled “We See You,” which included news footage and interviews with some of the people alleging KCKPD misconduct.
KCKPD previously acknowledged a federal investigation into Golubski was launched in 2019 and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation was investigating his role in McIntyre’s conviction.
A former KCKPD police chaplain said he quit working with the department over Golubski’s conduct, noting that his own complaints were brushed off and never investigated.
Golubski’s former partner, Terry Zeigler, went on to become KCKPD chief of police and is among those called to testify before a grand jury about accusations against the former detective.
But the details of past FBI investigations demonstrate that the alleged misconduct went far beyond Golubski.
The documents Team Roc received related to FBI investigations 30 years ago include details of “numerous civil violations being committed by KCKPD officers on a routine basis” and describe the known cases as “only the tip of the iceberg.”
The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division uses “pattern-or-practice investigations” as a tool “to reform serious patterns and practices of excessive force, biased policing and other unconstitutional practices by law enforcement,” according to the Department of Justice.
The goal of such investigations is to determine whether “systemic deficiencies contribute to misconduct or enable it to persist.”
Community groups also have urged a pattern-and-practice investigation intothe Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.
A letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in July 2021 details deadly force incidents involving minorities, excessive force claims, a wrongful arrest, and evidence of other constitutional violations along with discrimination in KCPD’s hiring and promotion practices in its call for action by the Department of Justice.
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