Details from the police report:
MPD investigators interviewed the victim’s best friend, Maria Frank, who was initially reluctant to speak to officers because she feared retaliation by the gang members involved. She eventually revealed that on July 24 she was with Lois in her home in the same neighborhood, when an altercation between Lois and a drug dealer started. She saw an individual pull Lois out of the house, shove her into the garage and then heard sounds of a struggle, screams, and a gun shot. She ran from the home and hid at her grandmother’s house until the police located her.
The evidence collected from the crime scene, and statements by Maria Frank, lead to the arrest of William Tanner, an African-American male. The investigation also lead to the arrest of Anthony Landon, believed to have driven William Tanner from the crime scene, and Tanner’s younger brother, Joey, who is believed to have helped William Tanner dispose of incriminating evidence the next day.
Videotaped interview with Anthony Landon
In an MPD interrogation conducted by Detective Jones, Anthony Landon, a White male, admits to knowledge of William Tanner’s involvement in gangs and drug selling activity. He states that he knew when he drove William Tanner to the victim’s residence that Tanner planned to threaten her about money owed him and that he knew, from past experience, that Tanner was capable of serious physical violence. He denied all involvement in any violent acts against Lois and stated that when he drove Tanner away from the crime scene, he did not know that Tanner had just killed her.
Interview with an officer not involved in the case:
According to MPD Detective Phil Manning, Lois Murphy, a White female, was known by the Metropolis Police Department (MPD) as a drug user. She had three convictions for drug-related crimes and was currently on probation for her most recent conviction. She had been a confidential informant for Detective Manning for almost two years, providing information about drug trafficking activity in Metropolis. Detective Manning believes that Lois was not involved in a gang, but he knew she came in contact with gang members when she purchased drugs. Detective Manning knew she had drugs in her possession at times that he met with her, but did not arrest her because he wanted to keep her as an informant.
Detective Manning also knew that Lois was in violation of the terms of her probation by purchasing drugs, but he never reported that to her probation officer because she was a valuable source of information for the department, leading the local drug task force to many successful raids.
Interview with Nearby Convenience Store Owner
Raoul Garcia, the Latino owner of a convenience store down the street from the victim’s residence, was interviewed for background information on his knowledge of the victim and criminal activity in the neighborhood. He stated that that the cops frequently stop by his store for a chat and ask how things are going in the neighborhood, and they tend have a visible presence on his block. He’s always happy to provide a cup of coffee free of charge to any of the officers who stops by because he knows they have a tough job and they are looking out for the businesses in the neighborhood. He sees no problem with showing his gratitude in this small way.
Interview with Nearby Bar Owner:
Joe Sampson, a White male and the owner of the Corner Tap, was also interviewed about the safety in the neighborhood and the amount of known gang activity. Joe stated that he knows drug dealing goes on in the neighborhood and there are often fights between rival gangs. He says he does not have to worry about any of the violence spilling into his bar because he’s friends with many cops. There are a couple officers who swing by his place a couple times a night whenever they are on the night shift, and he always makes sure they are taken care of when they come in to watch the football game on Sunday. And, unlike the bar down the street, none of his customers get hassled by the cops at closing time. The word is out that he’s friends with the cops.
An article appearing on July 31 in the Metropolis Daily News reported that a call had been made from the victim’s home phone on July 24 during which the caller said in a quiet whisper that she needed help but then the phone was disconnected. No follow-up call was made by the dispatcher and no squad was sent to the residence. When asked about this call by the Metropolis Daily News, the MPD denied that such a call had been made.
In another article on this story appearing on August 15, the Metropolis Daily News reported that the MPD acknowledged, after further inquiry, that a call had been made on July 24 from the victim’s residence. The MPD is refusing to release either a transcript or the audio of the call, citing data privacy restrictions.
Author’s interview with Maria Frank
Maria Frank said that the investigator who tracked her down promised that the police would protect her if she came forward to testify. Relying on those assurances, she told them what she knew about the incident. However, she now knows that Metropolis has no funds for witness protection and the MPD cannot do more than provide enhanced patrolling in her neighborhood. Maria feels that the defendant’s gang friends want to kill her and feels betrayed by the MPD, especially as she lives in a vulnerable area.
Internal affairs report
As a result of an internal affairs investigation it was determined that the MPD representative who denied the existence of the 911 emergency call on July 24 when the Metropolis Daily News reporter asked, knew of both the existence of the call and the audio taped recording of the call. In addition, the dispatcher was found to have violated standard procedure by not calling back the residence following the hang-up call. It is uncertain whether this was due to the location of the victim’s home or other circumstances.
Videotape of MPD interview with Joey Tanner
The videotaped interview of Joey Tanner, the 18-year-old brother of the murder suspect, shows the MPD detective telling Joey Tanner that they have a witness who puts him at the scene of the crime which suggests that he had some involvement in the murder and could result in more serious charges. The investigative file clearly shows that the detective knows that this statement is false when he makes it. The detective at all times was professional in the interview, appearing at times to have sympathy for Joey’s plight that his brother got him into this situation and indicating that any cooperation on Joey’s part would be communicated to the prosecutor and would be looked at favorably “down the line.”
Joey Tanner eventually tells the detective that the day after the crime he helped his brother get rid of the gun, and he told the detective where it could be found.
Prosecutor’s charging decisions
Upon consideration of all the facts, and following negotiations with Joey Tanner, the Metropolis County District Attorney’s Office made the following charging decisions in the case:
· William Tanner: Murder, second degree (unpremeditated)
· Anthony Landon: No charges for aiding and abetting murder in the second degree, on the condition that he testify truthfully against William Tanner.
· Joey Tanner: No charges for aiding and abetting after the fact, on the condition that he testify truthfully in the case against William Tanner.
Author’s interview with informant:
In a discussion with Billy Knowles, a White male and a known drug dealer who spoke on the condition of anonymity, he stated that it is well known on the street that there is an officer in the department who has been passing information along to Anthony Landon including specific information about other gangs and notice of planned drug raids. He doesn’t know the name of the officer, but he says that Anthony seems to have some kind of inside connection because in the past year the police have had big raids on nearly all the active gangs in the area except his.
Author’s interview with deputy sheriff at the Metropolis County Adult Detention Facility (jail)
A sheriff who works in the county jail was interviewed about his interactions with the three individuals who had been arrested. The deputy said that an inmate had approached him and said that his cellmate, Anthony Landon, told him that he was actually the one who brought the gun to the house on the day of the murder and was in the garage when the shooting happened. The inmate said he asked Anthony if he had been the shooter and Anthony did not actually say so, but sort of gave a “knowing wink” in response. The inmate then asked Anthony if the police believed his statement when he said he was just the driver, Anthony gave another “knowing wink” and said that he and “Jonesy,” the detective who interviewed him, “have an understanding.” The deputy sheriff said that he gave this information to the Metropolis County District Attorney’s Office before the trial.
Author’s interview with member of MPD
In an interview about the culture of the MPD with another MPD detective, wishing to remain anonymous, this detective said that the culture varies by precinct. There is one precinct known as “Lower Town” where the officers are known to play “fast and loose” with the rules, often putting in their police reports that they Mirandized the suspect when they did not, putting down false information in an affidavit to get a warrant, and, using excessive force when arresting a suspect. The cops in Lower Town seem to have an “us against them” mentality where their job is to “get the bad guys,” and they take whatever steps they feel is needed to get the job done.