Judge won't toss exoneree's suit against Detroit officer

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

A federal judge Friday dismissed attempts by a Detroit police officer to toss out claims against him by a man falsely convicted of two murders based on allegedly false evidence provided by the officer.

Mubarez Ahmed was found guilty in March 2002 of murdering a man and a woman, Lavelle Griffin and LaTanya White, in an automobile parked at Kirkwood and Lumley on the west side, in a drive-by shooting.

As he served more than 17 years of a 30 to 60-year prison term, the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit and the University of Michigan Law School Innocence Clinic investigated the case, and revealed new evidence.

Exonerated Mubarez Ahmed, right, hugs and smiles with friend Tim Abdul-Matin.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office recommended that murder charges be dismissed. Ahmed was released Sept. 6, 2018.

He sued police Sgt. Ernest Wilson and the city, alleging Wilson made up evidence and lied while testifying in the prosecution.

In a 16-page decision rejecting Wilson’s pretrial motions for summary judgment in the suit, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh said Wilson incorrectly identified the owner of the automobile Ahmed was alleged to have driven in the shooting.

Wilson had asserted that based on evidence from another police officer and the FBI, Ahmed’s girlfriend Julie Wheeler owned the vehicle, and let Ahmed drive it, Steeh said.

Wilson also said he had Wheeler’s vehicle tested, the judge said.

During the review of the case against Ahmed, Wheeler said she did not know him, she had never met with police about the case and her car never had been tested, the judge said.

Wilson also prompted a witness to the drive-by shooting to pick Ahmed out of a lineup, against her judgment and over her concerns, the judge said.

Wilson showed the witness a photograph of Ahmed before the identification process, asserted that he had another witness who identified Ahmed as the killer and said she should “stick with the program,” the judge wrote in his decision,

Ahmed alleged that Wilson suppressed material evidence favorable to him, prosecuted him maliciously, violated his due process rights and fabricated evidence.

Wilson moved for summary judgment on all but the due process complaint, and asserted a claim of qualified immunity because he did “not violate clearly established rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

In each instance, Steeh said Wilson failed to provide adequate justification for summary judgments or immunity, and that Ahmed had “alleged sufficient facts to support” his lawsuit.

Steeh took no oral arguments on any of the issues Wilson raised, and said they would have had no effect on his judgments.

In denying the motions for summary judgment on three of Ahmed’s complaints and Wilson’s claim of immunity, Steeh wrote, Wilson’s “motion fails to fulfill the basic requirements of a properly supported motion for summary judgment … and (Ahmed) has demonstrated that (Wilson) is not entitled to qualified immunity.”

Ahmed's lawyer, Wolfgang Mueller said, "We look forward to having a trial and exposing the corrupt acts that caused my client to serve almost 20 years in prison for a crime he knew nothing about."