Sunday, April 10, 2016

Rick Wershe is serving life for a shaky and shady drug conviction - Pt. 3

Several past Informant America blog posts have suggested the case that sent Richard J. Wershe, Jr. to prison for life was questionable at best. He was arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver over 650 grams of cocaine. The police case had gaping holes in it which were helped by Wershe’s own defense team, two lawyers loyal to Detroit Mayor Coleman Young and believed to be intent on ensuring Wershe went to prison for a long, long time. It is enlightening—and disturbing—to take a hard look at the evidence—or lack of it—behind Rick Wershe’s life prison term.


In this last of three blog posts about the arrest of Rick Wershe in a drug case that sent him to prison for life, we hear Rick’s version of what happened that night. Before getting to Rick’s side of the story, let’s do a short review from a previous blog post:

At the end of Rick Wershe’s preliminary exam on charges of possession with intent to distribute over 650 grams of cocaine, the following facts raised a lot of questions:

·                     Rick Wershe and a pal are stopped by the police on a pretext traffic stop near his home.
·                     Wershe had a shopping bag of cash but no drugs. His sister grabs the bag before the police can and she runs into her house with the cash.
·                     A curious crowd spills into the street along with dozens of cops.
·                     Rick Wershe walks away empty-handed.
·                     A teenage neighbor claims she saw Wershe walking between houses toward her house carrying a large box.
·                     The neighbor claims Wershe asked her to put the box behind her house. She said no.
·                     A second neighbor, who lives next door to the teen witness said he saw Wershe at the same time as the teen, but he testified Wershe wasn’t carrying a box.
·                     After Wershe leaves with the police the neighbors search the back yard for a box and they find one. The box is taken in to the teen girl’s house. A neighbor/witness said the box was taped shut.
·                     About two hours later, acting on a mysterious “anonymous phone tip”, the police arrive and take the box. The officer who took possession of the box says it was partially open when he took control of the box.

Rick Wershe, Jr. (MDOC photo)

There were varying stories about where Rick went during the chaos and confusion that surrounded the traffic stop near his house.

"I walked through the neighbor’s yard and walked straight to Camden (the next block) and went to Golly’s house, David Golly’s house and sat on the porch," Wershe recalls. He adds he didn’t have a box or anything else in his hands.

One of the pieces that doesn’t fit from the night of the arrest involves the Detroit police officer who made the traffic stop. His name is Rodney Grandison.

Wershe says he knew Grandison well enough to smoke pot with him on several occasions. But at Wershe’s trial, Officer Grandison lied under oath and told the jury he didn’t know Rick Wershe. 

Some time after Wershe went to prison, FBI agent Herm Groman visited him in the state prison in Marquette to ask for his help with an undercover sting operation to catch crooked cops. As part of the cooperative arrangement agent Groman helped Wershe prove Grandison’s trial perjury by arranging to tape a phone call from Wershe to Grandison from the prison. Wershe and Grandison chatted for awhile on the phone. The conversation was inconsequential but it clearly established that Officer Grandison knew Wershe well enough to talk on the phone for 15 or 20 minutes about a private matter Wershe made up for the purposes of the call.

As for the night Wershe was arrested…

"Grandison came through the yard with some other cop not far behind him," Wershe recalls. (He) called me off the porch."

The officers handcuffed Wershe and marched him between the houses and back toward Hampshire St. where the traffic stop began. They came to a gate in a fence.

"As soon as we got in the back yard he (Grandison) hit me in the side of the head with his pistol," Wershe remembers. "My eye closed up almost instantaneously." The blow from the pistol fractured Wershe's eye socket. Wershe continued: "I had on a solid gold chain. They grabbed me by that, they stomped me."

Next, the two officers grabbed Wershe again by the chain around his neck. "Then they threw me over the fence by my neck," Wershe says. "Instead of opening the gate and pushing me through the gate, they picked me up handcuffed and threw me over the fence."

The officers drove Wershe to the Ninth Precinct police station. The shift commander took one look at Wershe and Wershe remembers the precinct commander berated the officers for bringing him to the precinct house. Wershe was transported by ambulance to Detroit Receiving Hospital where he was treated for his beating injuries at the hands of the police. Wershe remembers the damage to his eye socket was so severe he had vision problems for a time.

I asked Wershe what prompted his sometime weed-smoking police pal and the other cop to beat the hell out of him.

"He claims he didn’t mean to hit me," Wershe says. After he got out of the hospital Wershe says Todd Reliford, a friend, took him to meet officer Grandison at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. This is the same officer Grandison who lied at trial and said he didn’t know Rick Wershe. 

Wershe remembers the conversation: “I said, ‘Are f**king crazy?’ He goes, 'Aw man I didn’t mean to hit you that hard. I was just trying to make it look good.' I said, ‘Make what look good, man?’"

Wershe says the police beating was unprovoked. Wershe was street savvy enough to know better than to resist arrest.

"I was in f**king handcuffs," Wershe notes. "And once he (Grandison) started (the pistol whipping and stomping), all the other cops joined in."

Wershe was not charged with resisting arrest or interfering with a police officer. As far as Wershe knows, none of the police officers were ever disciplined or charged for the beating he took that night.


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