Thousands of rounds of live ammunition, sealed evidence kits and case files — some containing Social Security numbers of rape and assault victims — lay amid rubble in a crime lab abandoned by Detroit police two years ago.
The Free Press discovered the ruins this week. Judicial experts expressed shock that evidence would be handled so recklessly.
“It’s incomprehensible that any law enforcement agency would not be mindful to preserve evidence,” Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny said.
Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr., told about the crime lab Thursday, launched an immediate investigation. “I will make sure that this never happens again,” he said.
The lab, housed in a former elementary school in Brush Park, was ordered closed in 2008 because of sloppy investigations. It’s now littered with tools, computers, TVs, cameras and microscopes, in addition to the other items.
The lab was open to trespassers for at least the past week. Parts of a fence around the perimeter have collapsed, and a window was broken. As recently as Monday, the front door was ajar . . .
The Free Press asked a downtown real estate professional with more than 25 years of experience in corporate real estate and building management to look at the former crime lab for an opinion on whether it was secure.
The professional, who asked not to be named because his company does not permit him to be quoted in the news media, visited the building Thursday afternoon and easily walked through the broken fence.
“You could back up a truck and empty the building,” he said.
So they had to close the place for sloppy work. Then they just left it open, to weather, trespassers, and raccoons, evidence and all. But rest assured. Chief says, “I will make sure that this never happens again.” So there’s that.
Sad thing is, any innocent people rotting away in a Detroit prison are the ones who will pay for this colossal fuck-up. If there’s evidence that could prove your innocence that was once testable but due to state screw-ups goes missing or contaminated, you’re generally out of luck.