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Trial Proceeds against Officer Who Reportedly Revealed Informant’s ID with Fatal Consequence

Renaissance_Unity_Brown_TopTrial Proceeds against Officer Who Reportedly Revealed POWELLad_01Informant’s ID with Fatal Consequence

(Goodman and Hurwitz, Dec. 15, 2015)

Madison Heights, MI –

Note:  This story comes from the blog of Goodman and Hurwitz, the firm representing Hilliard’s family.  We are running it as is because it does a good job explaining the issues involved in the case.

Federal judge rules: claims against cop who endangered informant will go to jury

On October 29, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy denied summary judgment to Oakland County and one of its Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) officers in a case where lisa schmidt lawthe officer disclosed the identity of a confidential informant to a drug dealer who eventually murdered the informant.

Shelly Hilliard, a trans-woman, helped the NET officer bust a drug dealer by luring the dealer to her motel room with a fake delivery. Madison Heights police pulled over the drug dealer’s car and eventually arrested him and his passenger. However, before the end of the operation, the NET officer told the drug dealer’s passenger that Shelly had set them up.

Within days, the drug dealer and another man murdered Shelly, dismembered her body, and scattered her throughout the City of Detroit, including setting her torso on fire.

Shelly’s mother filed claims against the NET officer, the Madison Heights police officer who puller over Shelly’s eventual murdered, the City of Madison Heights, and Oakland County garden16_howard_israelalleging that the defendants created or increased the risk that Shelly would be harmed by the drug dealer – a legal theory called “state created danger.”

The claim arises from the right to substantive Due Process that is guaranteed in the constitution. In early 2015, the claims against Madison Heights and its officer were resolved.

Oakland County and its NET officer filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to dismiss the claims. The Court denied that motion, finding that a reasonable jury could conclude that the NET officer violated Shelly’s right to due process and that the right was clearly established under similar circumstances. The Court also denied summary to Oakland County because the County failed to properly train its officers to protect the identities of informants.

blumz ad 03 holidayThe Defendants have filed both a motion for reconsideration as well as a notice of appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which will delay trial for at least another year. Unlike most civil cases, police officers are allowed to file an “interlocutory appeal” (before trial) to seek review of the denial of qualified immunity (a special defense available to individual governmental actors).

Read the Court’s opinion here: Nelson O & O denying Defs’ MSJ 10-29-15

Previous stories:

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/11/27/madison-heights-police-sued-in-death-of-transgender-woman/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/12/06/transgender-day-of-remembrance-lists-242-killed/

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