Judge: Cops Told 'Crucial Lies' To Build Case Against Teen

May 14, 2019 - 3:17 pm

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A young man who spent eight years in prison has cleared a key hurdle in a civil lawsuit against Detroit police who are accused of creating evidence against him in the murders of four people.

A judge last week declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Davontae Sanford. He was released from prison when a prosecutor said police, not Sanford -- ho was 14 years old at the time --   drew a diagram of the crime scene in 2007, who was 14 years old at the time.

Federal Judge David Lawson said police told "crucial lies" to build a case against Sanford.

Sanford was 15 years old when he pleaded guilty to four murders and was imprisoned in 2008. It was discovered by attorneys that weeks after he went to prison, hitman Vincent Smothers confessed to killing those four people along with eight others.

Sanford, who's now 26, says his constitutional rights were violated. He maintains that as a teen he lacked the mental capability to understand the implications of his confession, which he said came under duress and threats from police during questioning. 

Lawson's decision means the lawsuit against police will go to trial or be settled. One of the officers, James Tolbert, now is deputy chief in Highland Park.