The Alabama Justice Project has obtained documents that reveal a Dothan Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigation was covered up by the district attorney. A group of up to a dozen police officers on a specialized narcotics team were found to have planted drugs and weapons on young black men for years. They were supervised at the time by Lt. Steve Parrish, current Dothan Police Chief, and Sgt. Andy Hughes, current Asst. Director of Homeland Security for the State of Alabama. All of the officers reportedly were members of a Neo-confederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels “racial extremists.” The group has advocated for blacks to “return” to Africa, published that the civil rights movement is really a Jewish conspiracy, and that blacks have lower IQ’s . Both Parrish and Hughes held leadership positions in the group and are pictured above holding a confederate battle flag at one of the club’s secret meetings.
The documents shared reveal that the internal affairs investigation was covered up to protect the aforementioned officers’ law enforcement careers and keep them from being criminally prosecuted.
Several long term Dothan law enforcement officers, all part of an original group that initiated the investigation, believe the public has a right to know that the Dothan Police Department, and District Attorney Doug Valeska, targeted young black men by planting drugs and weapons on them over a decade. Most of the young men were prosecuted, many sentenced to prison, and some are still in prison. Many of the officers involved were subsequently promoted and are in leadership positions in law enforcement. They hope the mood of the country is one that demands action and that the US Department of Justice will intervene.
The group of officers requested they be granted anonymity, and shared hundreds of files from the Internal Affairs Division. They reveal a pattern of criminal behavior from within the highest levels of the Dothan Police Department and the district attorney’s office in the 20th Judicial District of Alabama. Multiple current and former officers have agreed to testify if United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch appoints a special prosecutor from outside the state of Alabama, or before a Congressional hearing. The officers believe that there are currently nearly a thousand wrongful convictions resulting in felonies from the 20th Judicial District that are tied to planted drugs and weapons and question whether a system that allows this can be allowed to continue to operate.
Members of the Henry County Report have spent weeks analyzing the documents. The originals, secured at an N.G.O. in Canada, are being shared directly with attorneys in the U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division, and are being made available to the lawyers of those falsely convicted that seek to clear their names.
There are two federal lawsuits currently pending by former police officers Keith Gray and Raemonica Carney against the Dothan Police Department. They will be given access as well as they substantiate their claims of racial discrimination and city’s violation of a federal court decree.
The documents serve as irrefutable evidence of criminal activity at the highest levels of the Dothan Police Department.
Beginning in early 1996, the Dothan Police Department received complaints from black victims that drugs and weapons were being planted. Specifically young black men who had clean records were targeted. Police Chief, John White, allegedly instructed senior officers to ignore the complaints and they willingly complied.
In early 1998, a group of concerned white officers from within the Police Department complained in writing about what they witnessed. This is reflected in the document below where it refers to a series of allegations that took place over 11 months before the department acted. The initial written complaint from the department’s own officers is dated June, 1998. The internal memo documents the last allegation as occurring in April of 1999. Almost a year of internal complaints by the department’s own police officers passed before Chief White turned it over to the Internal Affairs Division.
On August 27, 1999 more than a dozen officers had allegations against them for planting drugs and weapons on black men they had falsely arrested. They were each notified of a formal investigation and required to prepare statements in writing to the Internal Affairs Division. They were then tested by polygraph examination, most reportedly failed. The notification of charges reference a combination of marijuana, cocaine, and guns being planted on citizens during arrests that were witnessed by multiple fellow police officers.