Detroit cop charged with obstructing murder inquiry
Detroit — A Detroit police officer was indicted Monday on charges he didn’t act on prior knowledge about a murder scheme, told the killer to lay low after the slaying and tried to thwart a police investigation into the crime.
Also indicted was the man prosecutors allege carried out the April 23 killing of Brandon Rice, a father of six who was gunned down on his front porch in the 300 block of Elmhurst in Highland Park.
Prosecutors say Detroit Police officer Elijah Lately, who formerly worked in the 3rd Precinct, knew about Dmarco Hoskins’ plan to kill Rice, but did nothing to stop him.
Hoskins allegedly killed Rice to prevent him from testifying against him in another case.
Hoskins was denied bond by Wayne Chief Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny after being charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and witness intimidation.
Kenny set a $400,000 cash bond for Lately, who was charged with two counts of giving false statements to police about Rice’s killing. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.
“The allegation that a police officer would sit on knowledge regarding a homicide, and allegedly alert others who were involved in the conspiracy to kill a witness to lay low is shocking, quite frankly,” Kenny said. “Not only is it a threat to the community, but a threat to the court system.”
If Lately makes bond, Kenny ruled he must wear a GPS tether, and won’t be allowed to leave his house other than to go to court or meet with his lawyer, Gerald Evelyn.
In a news release, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said Lately was questioned April 24 by a Michigan State Police detective and again July 20 by a Detroit Police homicide detective.
“The allegations against the officer in this case are deeply disturbing,” county Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Anna Posigian said there was a long-standing dispute between Hoskins and Rice.
“The homicide of Brandon Rice is the final act in a long series of events involving Mr. Hoskins assaulting Brandon Rice,” she said. “There was a nonfatal shooting in 2013 ... where Brandon Rice’s daughter, niece and brother were shot. The defendant has been indicted on that case; that is currently pending.
“Earlier this year, on March 31, the same victim, Brandon Rice, was shot with a .45 caliber weapon,” Posigian said. “The defendant ... was indicted on assault with intent to commit murder on that case. He then fled the jurisdiction. He concocted a plan to have somebody else kill Brandon Rice.
“The weapon that was used to shoot and kill Brandon Rice is a .45... and there is a preliminary ballistics match (that shows) they were fired from the same gun,” Posigian said.
“The purpose of having Brandon Rice killed was twofold: There was an ongoing dispute between Mr. Hoskins and Mr. Rice, but ... but more importantly, Brandon Rice was killed in order to prevent him from testifying against Dmarco Hoskins in trial,” Posigian said.
Posigian did not say which charges Hoskins faced in which Rice was scheduled to testify.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran said Lately was a “danger to the community.”
“The defendant had knowledge of the conspiracy (to kill Rice) and as a police officer did nothing about it,” Moran said. “And once he was interviewed about the homicide, he lied to police.”
After Monday’s hearing, Lately’s mother, Marlene Johnson, insisted her son was innocent.
“He’s been treated like an animal,” she said. “They came to our house with a SWAT team, and they didn’t find anything. We’re cooperating with the police.”
Lately’s aunt, Sebrina Johnson, added: “Eli was blindsided by this. He would never hurt anybody. We feel bad for the deceased and his family, but Eli didn’t know about (the plan to kill him). To say he’s a danger to society is ridiculous.”