WHY DURHAM CITY COUNCIL
REFUSED TO PAY INNOCENT
MAN FOR POLICE FRAME-UP
By Cash Michaels
According to Darryl Anthony Howard, he has been legally proven not guilty of two murders after spending over 21 years of an 80 year sentence in prison; has receive a pardon of innocence from Governor Roy Cooper; and had a federal jury award him $6 million in damages against the city of Durham.
So where’s the money?
The city of Durham, per it’s City Council, has decided it’s not paying Howard a penny despite the fact that it was it’s police detective who lied to convict Howard in 1995, legally depriving the Black man of his civil rights. As far as the Durham City Council is concerned, that now retired detective, Darrell Dowdy, is the one who owes Darryl Howard $6 million, even though the City of Durham has spent $4 million defending Det. Dowdy in court.
How did this happen, and could it happen again.
It has almost become commonplace in North Carolina for Black men falsely convicted of crimes 30 - 40 years ago, to be legally determined not guilty after recent re-examination of the facts in their cases, be released from prison after many years, and granted pardons of innocence by the governor.
Usually the subsequent argument is that the $750,000 restitution from the state is not enough to make up for the many years lost spent in prison. Families, promising careers, freedom - all lost because of the actions of overzealous and racist police and prosecutors.
In Darryl Howard’s case, he was convicted of murdering a 29 year-old mother and her 13-year-old daughter in their Durham apartment in 1991 after sexually assaulting them. Howard was also convicted in 1995 of then setting their bodies on fire.
No DNA or physical evidence linking Howard to the crime was ever recovered. There was an eyewitness who later recanted his testimony. But it was enough over twenty years ago to convict Darryl Howard of two counts of second degree murder and one count of arson.
He was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
In 2014, a Durham judge vacated Howard’s conviction. The state appealed that order, prompting the Innocence Project to take Howard’s case, proving in 2016 that he was indeed not guilty. Howard was now 58. Gov. Cooper later granted him a pardon of innocence in 2021.
Howard then sued the city of Durham in federal court for violation of his civil rights. He asked for $48 million to account for over two decades of his life taken.
After only an hour of deliberation, the jury awarded $6 million in damages to Howard last December.
The story typically ends there, but this one didn’t.
The Durham City Council held a series of closed meetings from last December through February, ultimately deciding not to pay the $6 million.
Why? It was one of Durham’s police detectives who reportedly conducted “ a poorly run investigation” and “violated Howard’s civil rights by fabricating evidence.” And it was Detective Darrell Dowdy, who spent 36 years working for the Durham Police Dept. before retirement, who lied to convict Howard.
According to Durham City Attorney Kim Rehberg, North Carolina General Statute 160A-167 Defense of employees and officers; payment of judgements says “The city neither has to defend nor pay the judgement for a city employee or former city employee who “acted or failed to act because of actual fraud, corruption or actual malice on his part.”
Nothing in this section shall be deemed to require any city, authority, or county to pay any claim or judgment referred to herein… the statute continues.
Attorney and NCCU Law Professor Irving Joyner concurs, saying that in federal civil rights cases, “…claims under 42 U.S.C Section 1983 must find that a municipality, by its specific conduct, has violated a person’s right before it is liable for money damages. It seems unfair, but the law requires a jury’s conclusion that the municipality engaged in the conduct which caused the unlawful conduct by this police officer. Merely being the employer is not enough to establish that liability on the part of the City. In this case, the legal conclusion was that the city of Durham did not violate Howard’s rights and specifically concluded that the police officer was solely responsible for Howard’s conviction. As such, the City is not legally required to pay this judgment since it did not order the officer to commit the wrongful acts against Mr. Howard nor did the City endorse that conduct. “
In short, former Det. Dowdy, not the city of Durham, is responsible for his unauthorized behavior in the Darryl Howard case. So Darryl Howard’s attorneys have to get the $6 million from him.
Atty. Rehberg added that the city of Durham made several “substantial settlement offers” before the trial that were “remarkably close” to what the jury ultimately awarded him.
Because the jury had also decided that Det. Dowdy engaged in “fabrication of evidence and bad faith failure to investigate,” that cleared the city of responsibility or obligation, she maintains.
Darryl Howard’s attorneys interpret GS 160A-167 differently, saying that once the city of Durham decided to spent $4 million in taxpayers money defending the retired detective in court, it automatically assumed liability.
Still, Howard’s attorneys have to now go after whatever assets the retired Dowdy has to make good on the $6 million damage award. The city of Durham will not pay anything.
"Everybody thinks they just give [the money] to you," Howard told WRAL-TV. ”And everybody [else does] get it. But for some reason, they just want to refuse me and I don't understand that."
BLACKS SHOULD BE
NEWEST COVID-19 VARIANT
By Cash Michaels
African-Americans take note - don’t stop wearing that mask around work and shopping centers just yet.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new warning last week about the latest coronavirus omicron subvariant that is quickly growing across the nation.
It’s officially called BA.2.12.1, an offshoot of the BA.2 omicron variant, and it accounts for approximately 1 in five new coronavirus cases across the country. Seventy-five percent of new cases are BA.2, say researchers.
What makes BA.2.12.1 notable is that it is more transmissible than BA.2, which doctors have already deemed even more transmissible that the original coronavirus.
Thus far, there is not enough evidence to show BA.2.12.1 causes a more severe disease, or more hospitalizations, but that could change as cases rise.
Experts say expect more COVID-19 variants to mutate in the near future, and caution that the best defense, even if you are fully vaccinated, is to continue to wear protective face masks in enclosed areas outside of the home around unfamiliar people to help cut down on transmission.
It has been established that even fully vaccinated people can still contract COVID, but many are able to avoid the severe effects.
Still, a lot depends on a person’s initial health condition. For many, because of their age or condition due to diabetes or weakened immune system, doctors strongly recommend a second booster shot, which should be available from their primary doctor or local health clinic.
All of this flies in the face of a recent ruling by a federal District judge mandating that masks are no longer required for air travel.
The CDC was blunt in its response to the ruling.
"The Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disagree with the district court's decision and will appeal, subject to CDC's conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health," a spokesperson said. "The Department continues to believe that the order requiring masking in the transportation corridor is a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health. That is an important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve."
Within the past two years since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States, African-Americans have proven to be twice as likely to contract the coronavirus, and twice as likely to die from it because of prior poor health conditions.