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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Corrupt Cop's Best Defense: "Everybody's Lying"

Tulsa police officer says of prosecution witnesses: 'Everybody's lying'

Tulsa World by Jarrel Wade and Omer Gillham - August 17, 2011

The former partner of an indicted police officer testified Tuesday that every accusation made by alleged victims of wrongful searches and seizures was false. Officer Frank Khalil, the former partner of Officer Jeff Henderson, continued his testimony in defense of Henderson during the 12th day of a federal police corruption trial. "Everybody's lying," Khalil said after a prosecutor led him through the previous testimony of several witnesses. The indictment against Henderson, 38, and Officer Bill Yelton, 50, includes the names of 32 people whom prosecutors allege were wrongly incarcerated, subjected to illegal searches or had other civil rights violated. Numerous witnesses who do not know each another have made similar claims against the officers. Meanwhile, key informants for Henderson and Yelton have testified that they were not the informants the officers claim to have used to gain search warrants that led to arrests.

Defense attorneys have exposed numerous instances of inconsistent or untruthful statements by prosecution witnesses during the trial. Khalil rebutted the prosecution's claim that Henderson had used Rochelle Martin's name as a "throw-down" informant to falsify search warrants. A "throw-down" informant is one whose name is used even when that person did not supply the information. Prosecutors allege that Martin never entered the homes of drug dealers to identify drugs for sale as alleged in search warrant affidavits by Henderson and Yelton. Khalil offered detail on how he and Henderson would pick up Martin at specific locations in Tulsa and she would point out the locations of dealers' homes. Defense attorney Robert Wyatt IV questioned Khalil on several of the prosecution's most important accusations in the case, involving testimony from admitted drug dealers who allege that officers, including Henderson and Khalil, stole money while serving search warrants. Khalil, who has not been charged, denied observing or participating in any illegal activity. Khalil also testified about Henderson's and Yelton's character as police officers, saying they were "outstanding officers." "Their work is impeccable," he said. "(Henderson) is an officer that I trusted with my life and still do to this day." Khalil was questioned about how often he worked with former ATF Agent Brandon McFadden. McFadden has testified that he saw Khalil pocket money during the search of a home. Khalil denied that accusation under defense attorney questioning. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Harris then questioned Khalil about several cases in which the alleged victim of a wrongful search and seizure had appeared in court and testified about officers stealing drugs or money. For each of the witnesses who have testified - including Ryan Logsdon, Elton Shaw, Corey Smith, Jose Angel Gonzalez, Alphie McKinney and McFadden - Harris asked Khalil if they were lying. Khalil said they must be lying in regard to officers serving improper search and seizure warrants and stealing drugs or money. Khalil said Martin lied in her testimony when she said she hadn't been to McKinney's home. Under cross-examination, Khalil said that in 2002 he opened a side business known as Road Rage Motors through which he locates and purchases cars for individuals. Khalil evaded a question about a car deal with Logsdon in July 2007. Logsdon had become Khalil's and Henderson's informant earlier that year. Khalil apparently sold the car to Logsdon a few months after Khalil, Henderson and McFadden served a search warrant at Logsdon's home in Turley. Khalil and Henderson signed Logsdon up as an informant. When asked if he thought it was good police work to engage in a car deal with an informant he is supervising, Khalil said he knows of no department policy disallowing that. Sgt. Sean Larkin testified after Khalil, offering strong compliments for Henderson's police work. Larkin served about 200 search warrants with Henderson when they were police partners for several years beginning in 2001, he said. While serving those search warrants, Larkin never saw Henderson do anything illegal, he testified. Henderson developed north Tulsa sources who aided him as a police officer, Larkin said. He was asked about earlier testimony from James Fue, who said Henderson and Larkin had threatened him with a gun in 2005 to make him give them information. "That would be a completely false statement," Larkin said. "I never worked with Officer Henderson in the fall of 2005, so how could I have even been at the gun club where this supposedly happened?" On cross-examination, Larkin admitted that through his attorney he approached special prosecutors about the possibility of immunity. The attorney contacted Jane W. Duke, first assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. However, no agreement was reached. Neither Larkin nor Khalil is charged with a crime, but both were identified by Duke as alleged co-conspirators. Larkin testified that he and other police supervisors gave Henderson and Yelton permission to provide a tape recorder to Martin in late December 2009 or early January 2010. He said police had received information that Martin's boyfriend, Demarrio Oates, was providing untruthful information about Henderson. Larkin said he picked up a recording from Martin at a Tulsa convenience store. Martin testified during the first week of the trial that she received a recorder from Henderson and Yelton. Henderson requested that she record Oates allegedly lying about seeing Henderson make a marijuana delivery to her house, Martin had testified. Martin testified that Oates confronted her when she asked him why he "fibbed" on Henderson. Martin testified she stopped the recording at that point. On cross-examination, Larkin said Tulsa police were involved in recording Oates simply to discover the truth behind allegations against the Police Department. "But didn't you provide the recorder to help Henderson, who you knew was being investigated?" Duke asked. Larkin said: "It ultimately might have helped Officer Henderson, but we were looking to record false statements about police officers in general." The effort to get the recording during a federal investigation was not an attempt for the Police Department to intervene in the case against Henderson, he said. "I'm assuming the Police Department wants to protect their officers from false allegations," he added. Larkin also said there were numerous incidents during the federal investigation where officers tried to make contact with individuals who had made what police believed were false allegations.

Tuesday developments - More veteran police officers who were present at alleged improper searches testified that they never saw wrongdoing or illegal activity on the part of officers when the search warrants were carried out.

Key moment - Officer Frank Khalil's testimony drew a line in the sand for jurors who have heard testimony from many witnesses in the prosecution's case, which alleges that 32 people are victims. "Everybody's lying," Khalil told the court under cross-examination. A majority of the 32 alleged victims are convicted or admitted drug dealers.

Key testimony - Sean Larkin testified that police supervisors gave Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton permission to give informant Rochelle Martin a tape recorder, which she used to get evidence that her boyfriend, Demarrio Oates, was giving untruthful information about Henderson. Oates denied lying about Henderson, according to previous testimony by Martin. Prosecutors allege that the testimony raises questions about police officers' involvement in gaining evidence to assist officers who are the target of the federal investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Duke questioned Larkin on why the department would assist officers during the investigation. Larkin testified that the Police Department wants to protect its officers from "false allegations." Larkin also said there were other incidents - not just with Oates - where police tried to contact individuals making allegations. Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367 Omer Gillham 918-581-8301,

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