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Investigator calls on FBI to investigate wrongful conviction cases similar to Mark Handy’s

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 7:33 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Former Louisville Metro Police Detective Mark Handy is now going to prison himself after he was found guilty of perjury and tampering with physical evidence Tuesday.

At times during the hearings, he sat in front of the four men he sent to prison for a combined total of more than 60 years. The convictions of those four men have now all been overturned.

“I thought this doesn’t happen here, I don’t see this,” former homicide detective and legislator Denny Butler said.

While he’s content there was some justice, he is concerned no one is investigating what went wrong in the first place.

He said there are a number of other wrongful conviction cases where settlements in federal civil lawsuits have been paid out, yet no one was held accountable.

Keith West, the man whose case lead to Handy’s tampering with evidence charge, said his one year conviction isn’t enough.

“Although I was somewhat relieved to see Mark Handy finally acknowledge some of the misconduct that he committed in mine and Edwin Chandler’s cases, I feel as though he got a pat on the back in only being sentenced to one year in jail,” West said. “I hope what happened today will stop other officers from committing the same acts in other cases.”

Jeffrey Clark, whose conviction in an alleged satanic cult murder was also overturned, said he is still battling the effects.

“I spent over 23 years of my life in prison for a crime I did not commit and even today continue to fight the lies Mark Handy and others fabricated against me,” Clark said. “A year of incarceration does not begin to compare to what I’ve lost due to Handy’s misconduct and the culture of the LMPD in permitting and covering up that misconduct.”

In Chandler’s wrongful conviction case against Handy, Chandler had already received his lawsuit’s payout, but Handy was still working as a sheriff’s deputy in Jefferson County.

Butler said the problems with these cases may not always be law enforcement.

“It’s not just the police, it’s prosecutors, it’s judges. It’s the entire system,” Butler said.

He believes Handy should have been processed in federal court.

Butler is now calling on the FBI to review all lawsuits which have reached a settlement in civil federal court to see if there was willful misconduct.

“I met here with the FBI here locally, the SAC, Mr. Brown and the criminal chief and the civil chief on March 19th, to give them this information,” Butler said. “They weren’t aware of it. So I think it’s not just an awareness not just for the public, it’s an awareness for the criminal justice system.”

He believes there were several pieces of evidence that could have shed light on Handy’s pattern of behavior sooner, such as a tape WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters first exposed in 2017, when the first investigation aired.

“This is Mark Handy of the Louisville Police Department,” can be heard while Handy is questioning a witness if West, or Kiki, was the guy seen wearing a specific hat.

“No question about it?” Handy asked.

“No question about it,” the witness responded.

But at the end of that tape, there’s a pause and the same witness says the opposite.

“I’ve seen him wearing that before, but I don’t know if that’s Kiki or not.”

That witness later said Handy stopped the tape during the interview, rewound it, and coaxed him on what to say. But a piece of the first interview still remained at the end of the tape.

“What if the system is violating people’s civil rights? We need to fix the system,” Butler said. “And if you have a knucklehead like Mark Handy, you hold the knucklehead accountable and get rid of him. Or we do nothing.”

Not investigating the problems, whether it’s a rogue detective or a corrupt legal system could be tragic.

“You continue to repeat the same mistakes and expect different results.”

The FBI told WAVE 3 News their Public Corruption and Civil Rights Task Force would investigate wrongful conviction cases if there’s evidence that someone’s civil rights may have been violated.

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