Officer Eugene Miller - Shot and wounded wife - Detroit PD
In 1971, Detroit Police officer Eugene Williams was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident while under the influence of alcohol. Williams was fired from the Detroit PD after the fatal accident, but was reinstated in 1974.
A WOMAN AGAINST THE SYSTEM
BY GARY YOUNGE, published in The Nation and by Agence Globale
December 19, 2008
(Nov. 17, 2010 – This article is being re-published due to a recent attack on Bukowski related to her conviction in this case.)
On election day James Willingham, 42, was driving home from the polls in Detroit around 3:30 pm on his motorcycle when he was allegedly hit by a police car with such force that he struck and killed a pedestrian, Jeffrey Frazier, and then crashed into a pole and died from the impact.
When Diane Bukowski, a white journalist for the black newspaper Michigan Citizen, heard the news on a black radio station, she rushed to the scene on the corner of Justine and East Davison. The first print reporter to arrive, she showed her credentials and started taking photographs. A female state trooper yelled at her from across the street, “Who the fuck do you think you are?” Bukowski again identified herself as a journalist. “I didn’t cross any police tape,” says Bukowski. “I was just doing my job.” The trooper grabbed the camera, deleted the photos, handcuffed Bukowski, arrested her on a single misdemeanor count of obstructing an investigation and took her to state police headquarters, where she was held for about an hour.
And so it was that as the polls were closing in Michigan and the nation began to bask in the warm glow of a post-racial society, a white woman was cuffed and fingerprinted because she tried to tell the world about two black men who had just been killed.
For all the dreamy talk of the journey we are on to transcend race, only a handful like Bukowski are actually paying for the ticket. Not just because she’s a white woman who works for a black newspaper and got arrested, or because the victims she was writing about were black, but because she is a white person who is prepared to take on the mess that white supremacy has built.
Extinguishing race as a meaningful category demands that we first get rid of the racism that gives it meaning. In that respect, the symbolic resonance of election night in Chicago — joyous as it was — can be understood only within the systemic neglect and harassment of that fateful afternoon in Detroit. The two scenes do not contradict but complement each other. A black man in the White House seemed so unlikely precisely because a black man in prison or dead at the hands of the police is so much more likely. What individuals do in the privacy of the polling booth pleasantly surprised some of us; but the outrageous things institutions do in plain sight no longer turn heads. Race describes the protagonists; power shapes the narrative.
“I’m happy that Barack Obama got elected,” says Arnold Reed, Bukowski’s attorney. “It’s a start. But he’s not the savior. He’s not standing on the corner of Justine and Davison. The battle that transcends race in this country is between those who have and those who have not. Diane’s reports have given a voice to those who have not.”
Bukowski cuts an intriguing figure. An insatiable gum-chewer, she strides through the roughest areas of black Detroit in single-minded pursuit of her stories. She is 60 years old and stands at around 5 feet 4 inches. A few days after her arrest, her charge was ramped up to five felony counts of assaulting, wounding, battering, resisting, obstructing or endangering five troopers, carrying up to ten years in prison. The idea of this small woman single-handedly battering five armed troopers would be funny if it weren’t so absurd. The charges were reduced to two troopers following a preliminary exam.
The police claim they didn’t hit Willingham. They say the accident on election day occurred when Willingham raced away from them on a stolen motorcycle after they tried to pull him over for speeding.
Given a choice between their account and Bukowski’s, I know which one I would believe. She reported on the murder of Brandon Martell Moore for the Michigan Citizen. Brandon, 16, was shot in the back by an off-duty cop as he left a mall. Brandon had never been in trouble with the law before. But the cop who shot him had. In 1971 Eugene Williams, who is black, was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident while under the influence of alcohol. In 1979 Williams shot and killed a 31-year-old man during a neighborhood brawl. Five years later he shot his wife, but she lived. Williams stayed on the force. The senseless death of a black teenager at the hand of a wayward cop is clearly not a newsworthy story in Detroit. The city’s two main newspapers needed less than 200 words to write up the whole story in which they failed even to mention Brandon’s name and quoted only the police.
Were it not for Bukowski, who pursued the case relentlessly, Brandon would have died without a trace. Thanks to her reporting, the community demanded answers.
So there is a reason the Detroit police don’t like Bukowski. She refuses to let them do their job the way they see fit. During her years at the Citizen she has broken several stories, including one about the “Booty Boys” — police on Detroit’s Southwest side were conducting illegal cavity searches of black men in public on city streets. She also broke the story of Eugene Brown, a cop who ran amok in black areas during the ’90s. Her work was used by federal authorities when they imposed a consent decree on Detroit police. Nonetheless, all these police officers, most of whom are black, remain on the force. “This is clearly an attempt to intimidate me,” says Bukowski of her arrest. “They are trying to cover up what happened.” Without her, they would get away with murder, literally.
At Detroit’s 36th District court, where Bukowski’s preliminary exam was heard, almost everyone is black — the public defenders, judges, security guards, defendants, cashiers, stenographers, ushers. Once the system is up and running, the race of those who operate it is as secondary as the race of those who fight it.
Detroit Officer who Killed Unarmed 16-year-old has Killed two Others
Black Press USA - by Diane Bukowski
Special to the NNPA from the Michigan Citizen
December 20, 2006
DETROIT — The Detroit police officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Brandon Moore at Detroit’s Bel-Air Mall Nov. 26 is Officer Eugene J. Williams.
A 35-year veteran of the force, Williams has killed two others during his tenure with the department, in 1971 and 1979.
Informed sources have independently identified Williams, whose badge number is 4174, although the police department has refused to do so while an investigation proceeds.
According to published articles and court records, Williams also shot and wounded his police officer wife in 1984 in a domestic dispute, and wrongfully knocked out four front teeth of an innocent 16-year-old Cody High School student in 1989.
“I want to address Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings,” said Moore’s father John Henry Moore, Sr. “Why is this man still on the force, after doing all this damage to people’s lives? If my son had shot him, he would be in jail or where he is now, deceased. Brandon was only starting his life, and he had a promising career, but this officer can still go home and take care of his family.”
Earlier reports indicated that the officer who shot the younger Moore was on administrative leave.
However, Williams answered the phone Dec. 12 at the Traffic Enforcement Unit on Mt. Elliott, where he is assigned. He would not confirm that he is the officer involved, but he did not deny it. He would not discuss whether he worked on or off-duty at the National Wholesale Liquidators store.
Moore was killed there after he and a group of friends were ejected from the store, got in a dispute with Williams, and then ran after the officer produced a gun.
“No, we don’t speak to people on the phone about things like this, according to department policy,” said Williams. He declined a personal interview.
Second Deputy Chief James Tate had not returned a call for comment about Williams before press time.
Bobby Pidgeon, a media spokesman for National Wholesale Liquidators, said the chain was waiting for the results of the police investigation in the case.
“We understand six young men attacked the off-duty officer,” said Pidgeon. He hung up when asked whether the officer was working for the chain at the time.
Desiree Stinson, a friend of the Moore family, said her children frequent the store and have seen Williams working there since Moore’s killing. A former 911 operator, she said that police department employees are not allowed to moonlight on security jobs because such jobs represent a conflict of interest.
The source who identified Williams said he did not have department permission to work at the store, which is required for any off-duty work.
“I don’t understand why he hasn’t been charged,” said Stinson.
“If it had been one of us, we would have been under the jail. But they figure it’s just another Black kid who’s probably a hoodlum. Now they’re finding out he was a good kid who had never been in trouble. Where is the outrage about a grown man shooting a kid in the back?”
According to a Detroit Free Press article published in 1984, Williams, who was hired in 1970, was fired from the Detroit police force in 1971 after being involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident while under the influence of alcohol.
After he appealed, the department reinstated him in 1974.
On June 5, 1979, Williams shot and killed 31-year-old Glenn C. Grace while off-duty, during a neighborhood dispute on the southwest side, according to a lawsuit filed by the Grace family. Grace was an auto mechanic with four children.
Both sides in the suit agreed that Grace and a friend, Lloyd Woolfolk, who was a Ford autoworker, had gone to the home of Carolyn Broadnax on Liebold, to confront her brother about an earlier ejection from a party.
Both sides also agreed that Grace was armed and under the influence of alcohol.
According to court documents, Williams provided one version of the killing. He said he was visiting Broadnax at the time and both were standing on her front porch when Grace shot at the house across the street. Grace then confronted the two on the porch, pulling out his gun and threatening to kill them.
Williams shot Grace in the head and shoulder, killing him.
In a different account of events, Woolfolk said the conversation he and Grace were having with Broadnax had taken a friendly turn, and that Grace never displayed or pulled his gun or threatened the two on the porch. He said Williams never identified himself as a police officer, instead crept behind Broadnax, and fired at Grace without warning.
Due to legal technicalities, a judge refused to admit a plaintiff’s witness list including Woolfolk, and the case appears to have been dismissed.
A city attorney defended Williams in the case.
On June 4, 1984, Williams shot his wife, Pamila Hatter Williams, in the side during a domestic dispute, according to the Detroit Free Press and court records involving their 1987 divorce. Her right leg was at least temporarily paralyzed as a result.
His wife was also a police officer who had been preparing to return to work along with 125 others called back from lay-off.
Williams was suspended with pay, but it is unclear whether he was ever charged in the incident. His wife said she used a pair of scissors to cut up William’s police uniform and never intended to harm him. Williams said she lunged at him with the scissors. His divorce records claimed it was a knife.
Williams sued his wife for divorce in 1987, and expelled her from their Rosedale Park home. Wayne County Register of Deeds records show that she quit claimed the home to him in 2004, and that there have been several tax liens on the property, including an IRS attachment of nearly $40,000. A contact number for Hatter Williams was unavailable.
In 1989, 16-year-old Robert Valentine was walking down the halls of Cody High School in Detroit, when Williams and his partner accosted him, according to a lawsuit filed by Antonia Walker. The officers mistakenly thought Valentine had been involved in the incident for which they had been summoned to the school. A school investigation later said he was not connected.
“Officer Eugene Williams took him, flung him head and face first against a wall, where plaintiff struck his face, mouth and head . . . breaking off four front teeth with the impact,” says the suit.
“Then he fell to the ground and was struck by the officers again without reason or provocation.”
The suit said Valentine was suspended but later readmitted after an investigation showed he had nothing to do with the original incident. The suit was dismissed after a settlement for an undisclosed amount.
For years, the Detroit Police Department has allegedly been developing a computerized system to monitor officers like Williams, who have had repeated incidents involving possible brutality.
The U.S. Justice Department monitor has also required that such a system be instituted. The most recent report available, however, indicates that the system is not operational.
HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
Eugene J. Williams:
-Fired from force in 1971 after a fatal hit-and-run accident while under the influence of alcohol. Reinstated 1974.
-Shot and killed 31-year-old Glenn C. Grace while off-duty, during a neighborhood dispute, June 5, 1979.
- Shot wife, Pamila Hatter Williams, in the side during a domestic dispute, June 4, 1984.
- Flung Cody student Robert Valentine against a wall, where he struck his face, mouth and head . . . breaking off four front teeth, 1989
- Killed 16-year-old Brandon Moore at Detroit’s Bel-Air Mall Nov. 26, 2006.