Cops involved in Davontae Sanford lawsuit denied immunity

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Detroit — Two former Detroit officers who are accused in a federal lawsuit of fabricating evidence that put 14-year-old Davontae Sanford in prison for nearly nine years will not be granted immunity.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Thursday that former DPD deputy chief James Tolbert and former homicide lieutenant Michael Russell will be held liable if a jury rules in favor of Sanford in the lawsuit. Davontae Sanford, the Detroit man who was wrongly imprisoned for nearly nine years for four slayings a decade ago sued the city of Detroit and a pair of police officers Monday for the handling of the murder case that sent him to prison. (Photo: Max Ortiz / Detroit News file) Attorneys for Sanford, now 27, filed the suit against Russell, Tolbert and the city of Detroit after Sanford was released from prison in June 2016. The lawsuit claims Russell and Tolbert fabricated evidence against Sanford.

In the five-page ruling, the federal appeals court slammed the two ex-cops.

“Russell and Tolbert argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity against Sanford’s

claim that they fabricated evidence against him,” the ruling said. “In doing so, they brazenly seek to have us revisit the district court’s assessment of the relevant evidence, which in this interlocutory appeal we will not do.”

City officials representing Tolbert and Russell did not return an email Friday seeking comment. The city’s Law Department generally declines to discuss ongoing litigation. James Tolbert (Photo: The Detroit News) William Goodman, one of Sanford’s attorneys in […]

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