DETROIT - A 42-year-old father of 12 said he is wrongfully imprisoned because of the false testimony of two Detroit police officers who are now in prison for corruption.
Kaycee Smith, of Detroit, said he was innocent of drug charges throughout his trial. He was convicted and sentenced to 13 years behind bars, but now he's hoping for a new trial based on the convictions of the arresting officers.
David Hansberry and Bryan Watson, Detroit police narcotics officers, are serving time in federal prison for ripping off drug dealers. In February 2017, they told the Local 4 Defenders that they were wrongfully convicted due to malicious prosecution.
"The evidence will speak for itself," Hansberry said. "If we don't allow the story to die, the right people will see it."
"(I spent) 17 years in narcotics, and I just heard the prosecutor call me names," Watson said. "A 'dirty cop.' We are just going to stay on the high road."
The court disagreed, and Hansberry is serving 13 years while Watson serves nine years.
Smith said the two officers framed him.
"It is my claim that together, officers Bryan Watson and David Hansberry committed criminal acts against me to force me to give them information that I couldn't give them," Smith wrote in a letter to the Defenders.
Smith was arrested, charged and convicted on drug charges associated with a raid at a Detroit home. His sisters said the house police raided has surveillance cameras that would prove their brother had nothing to do with the drug house.
"There are cameras on both sides of the house," sister Martiese Lindsay said. "So it was all taken on camera, what took place."
"That was a DVR, a video camera, within the home that would have shown that my brother was not living there, had not been there," sister Nicole Smith said. "The day in question he was only on the exterior of the home, and they took the DVR -- they being the police officers -- which would have proved his innocence that none of this had anything to do with him."
"Officer Hansberry unplugged the DVR box and said he would review it," Kaycee Smith wrote from prison. "Officer Watson then told me in these exact words that he felt that I knew more than what I was telling him, and that if I didn't give him what he was looking for, he was going to cook my a--."
Smith said he refused to plead guilty to a crime he didn't commit, so he went to trial. He said he lost based on false testimony.
"During the court hearing, Hansberry was questioned about the DVR box by my attorney," Smith wrote from prison. "He testified that he did not take the box."
Local 4 legal expert Keith Corbett said it's not enough to have police on your case convicted of a crime to get a new trial.
"That would be evidence to impeach them as credible witnesses, but it would be a very long stretch for a judge to determine that that is likely to result in a jury throwing out the verdict," Corbett said.
Smith has always stood by his innocence. His sister said she hopes police who know Hansberry and Watson come forward.
"I would like to see justice for him," Nicole Smith said. "I would like -- I don't know how this works, but -- for those officers to tell the truth. Now that you have been proven that this is what you were doing to people -- for everybody that you wronged, that you come back, 'Yes, we did that. That's what we did. We've been proven of it.' And then they would let my brother free. That's what I hope."
Smith is fighting an uphill battle, but he hopes the state Supreme Integrity Unit will take a look at his case and join him in his fight for freedom.
You can read a full letter written by Smith about his case below.
Here is a statement from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office:
"The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office absolutely does not condone activities of police officers who become criminals by abusing the trust given them by the public and the authority given under the law. The recent federal convictions of ex-Detroit Police Officers Watson and Hansberry are disgraceful and reprehensible, however, in this case there is no evidence that would merit overturning the jury’s verdict in Defendant Smith’s case.
The defendant neglects to mention that Watson never testified in his case, and did not provide any inculpatory evidence in his case. Watson was the affiant for the search warrant, and in Defendant Smith’s motion for relief from judgment he has failed to provide any evidence that Watson’s affidavit for the search warrant was invalid, or erroneous. The defendant also alleges that Hansberry lied about the narcotics that were seized from his house. Similarly, the defendant neglects to mention that he never challenged the large amount of drugs that were recovered from his house. The judge denied the defendant’s motion for relief or judgment because it was without merit."
You can read the order of the judge denying a new trial below. A new motion has been filed asking the judge to reconsider.
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