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KS Community Leaders Demand Accountability For Officer's Abuse

A dozen years after his retirement, Roger Golubski, 69, returned to Kansas' Wyandotte County Courthouse in October to testify in a hearing for two Black inmates who claim the white former police detective framed them for murder. “Did you have a history of pressuring witnesses?” said Kevin Shepherd, a lawyer for Brian Betts and Celester McKinney. The inmates, convicted in 1997, sat next to Shepherd in striped prison jumpsuits. “Never,” Golubski replied. He is the key figure in alleged corruption during his 35 years in the Kansas City, Ks., Police Department that has raised troubling questions about justice and accountability. He is accused of preying on impoverished Black residents by exploiting a network of female informants for sex and for coerced testimony, which he allegedly used to close cases, reports the Washington Post.

The tale that emerges from court testimony, documents and interviews shows a world in which Golubski appears to have played a significantly influential role in dramatically determining darkness in the lives of scores of Kansas City residents. It provides a sense of the changes in power and justice occurring in the city, including the nuance, frustration and hope that has come as new leadership reckons with racial wounds. The U.S. Justice Department has taken steps to address some of the allegations, announcing two indictments of Golubski on eight counts, including civil rights violations, conspiracy and forcing women into involuntary servitude. Advocates for alleged victims want accountability from local officials. They are seeking an examination not just of Golubski’s actions, but of the police department, and what they see as a local power structure that helped cover up what residents say happened. Community leaders are demanding to know how Golubski was able to operate with impunity for decades and seeking reassurances that behavior such as his could not happen again in the city’s 330-officer police force, now overseen by Kansas City’s first Black mayor, a former police officer who rose to deputy chief. Terry Zeigler, who served as police chief from 2015 to 2019, denied knowledge of misconduct. Nikki Richardson, who in 2020 founded an advocacy group called Wyandotte for Justice, named for the county that includes Kansas City, is among those who believe many people share responsibility for any abuse. “The entire police department knew what he was doing,” Richardson said.


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