Deputy's past brought back into question after 25 years of allegations
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's a story 25 years and four overturned convictions in the making. To this day, it doesn't have an ending.
The City of Louisville has already paid $8.5 million for one wrongful conviction lawsuit. There are other federal lawsuits in the pipeline.
Those four people whose convictions were overturned spent a combined 62 years in prison for murder. But there is something else they have in common -- former Louisville Police Detective Mark Handy.
"He's done major damage," Louisville resident Shameaka Shaw said. "And he has a badge and a gun."
Handy arrested Shaw during an eviction in 2016. She was later acquitted, and claims Handy's past allegations of lying under oath caught up to him.
Some, including Denny Butler, a former Louisville Metro Police Homicide Detective and Kentucky State Representative, have called for Handy to be criminally charged.
"Their lives have been taken away from them because he decided to intentionally lie to gain a conviction," Butler said of the people whose convictions were overturned.
Those people are the subject of three cases dating back to 1992. They include Keith West, from a Louisville case, Jeffrey Clark and Garr Hardin from a 1992 Meade County case and Edwin Chandler, a Louisville case from 1993.
Butler re-investigated the Chandler case in 2008. He says he found lies, and evidence that then-Detective Handy coerced Chandler to falsely confess.
"The justice system has failed," Butler said. "It's wrong on so many levels."
Chandler went on to sue the city of Louisville and received an $8.5 million settlement.
Through those hearings, facts surfaced about the other cases Handy investigated. Like in the Keith West, or "Kiki," case.
Butler provided WAVE 3 News with a taped interview between Handy and a witness named Robert Ross. In that tape, Handy is heard questioning Ross if Kiki is the guy seen wearing a specific hat.
"No question about it?" Handy asked.
"No question about it," Ross responded.
But at the end of that tape, there is a pause, and the same witness is heard saying the opposite.
"I've seen him wearing that hat before, but I don't know if it's Kiki or not," Ross was heard saying.
Butler said he tracked Ross down during the course of his investigation, adding that Ross told him Handy had stopped the tape, rewound it, then coaxed him on what to say.
In a document regarding the overturned convictions in the Meade County case, the Supreme Court of Kentucky acknowledged Handy testified falsely under oath in the West case.
"While involved in another investigation in 1992, it is undisputed that Handy erased an eyewitness' initial taped statement and recorded over it with a second statement," the document stated. "When testifying under oath in that case, however, Handy stated that he did not erase or copy over any case."
The document also discredited Handy's work in the Chandler case.
"New evidence revealed that Handy testified falsely under oath concerning an unrelated 1993 murder case, just several weeks before he testified at (the Meade County) trial," the document stated. "The defendant in that 1993 case, Edwin Chandler, was wrongfully convicted of murder based at least in part on a confession that Handy falsely attributed to him."
"How many more innocent people do we have in prison because of this bad actor?" Butler asked.
Despite the facts against Handy's work as a policeman, WAVE 3 News learned he is still an officer today, a sergeant with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
"I was 12 years old when you did this to the other man," Shameaka Shaw said. "Why are you still allowed to be a civil servant to victimize me today?"
Following Handy's 2016 arrest of Shaw, she was charged with resisting arrest. In the arrest report, Handy wrote that Shaw "began yelling and refused to vacate pursuant to valid court order. After being told she was under arrest, subject began pulling away and struggling with deputies."
Shaw denied that claim. The jury acquitted her of the charge.
When she took the case all the way to trial, prosecutors were required to spell out Handy's past in a document outlining his history of untruthfulness, specifically speaking about the Meade County case against Garr Keith Hardin and Dewayne Clark.
"The Commonwealth has learned that in this ruling, the judge wrote that Detective Mark Handy had been found to have lied under oath in a separate trial," the document stated.
Shaw said Handy's past caught up with him.
"Shame on you," she said. "Shame on you."
Shaw blames Handy's superiors for not ever putting a stop to his behavior.
"Do something," she said. "Stop sitting around watching people suffer, and you have the power to stop it."
Shaw filed a complaint against Handy, prompting an internal investigation, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Col. Carl Yates told WAVE 3 News. The investigation was closed with no discipline being recommended.
Yates also told WAVE 3 News that Handy had done nothing wrong.
WAVE 3 News also learned that Handy had been investigated under perjury allegations by several other agencies.
The Louisville Metro Police Department has conducted two investigations, one in 2009 and another in 2012. Neither investigation produced any charges. The second investigation was opened by LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, and remained open for five years until August of this year.
LMPD Deputy Chief of Police Michael Sullivan said those investigations were thorough.
"It's closed when we take it to a prosecutor, a charging agency and they either decide to go forward with that investigation and prosecute that case or they decide to decline prosecution," he told WAVE 3 News. "That's what happened in this case.
"Obviously if somebody does lie under oath and is charged with that, and there's a finding that that person's untruthful, it goes and damages the badge for all of us."
The United States Attorney's Office also closed its investigation this year. Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine said he's not pursuing any charges.
"If we had it, we'd have indicted him a long time ago," Wine said, adding that six of his prosecutors reviewed the Chandler case over a span of two years.
Wine said there's not enough proof against Handy to make a perjury indictment stick.
"Once we swear in a jury to hear a case and it goes south, we're done," Wine said.
Wine said Handy's actions in the Keith "Kiki" West case, with that taped interview, have not been presented to his office. He said the Meade County prosecutor would be the one to bring charges against Handy in the case involving Hardin and Clark since his office does not have any jurisdiction.
But, Wine said he thinks there's a problem when it comes to Handy and admitted his office would struggle to prosecute someone with Handy as the key witness.
"I would not hire Mark Handy," Wine said. "He would not work in my office."
Handy's current boss, Sheriff John Aubrey -- who was the Louisville Police Assistant Chief in the early 1990s when Handy investigated the Chandler and West cases -- declined an interview for this story. So did Handy.
Aubrey was the Louisville Police Assistant Chief in the early 1990s when Handy investigated the Chandler and West cases.
Yates told WAVE 3 News that it's important for people to remember that Handy has not been charged with any crime. He also said the allegations of untruthfulness were revealed publicly after Handy became a deputy with the department. At this point, Yates said, allegations aren't enough to fire him.
Butler, the former detective and state representative, said he thinks there's something else going on.
"The leaders and the administration are spending their energy and resources on covering up the bad acts of the one percent," he said.
LMPD made changes to policies regarding interrogations in 2013 after a review called for by Conrad. Those changes came after Edwin Chandler's wrongful conviction lawsuit.
WAVE 3 News took a look back to 1992, including testimonies and documented history involving those three previous cases, and one that led to yet another complaint against Handy just last year.
1992 - Keith West
It was February 1992 when Kevin Harraway and Gerald White where shot and killed while in a vehicle driving down Magazine Street. Police determined Keith "Kiki" West was the gunman, and had jumped out of the vehicle before it hit a tree. At one point, West faced the death penalty. He contended Harraway and White had plans to kidnap and sodomize him and that the shooting was in self-defense. In the vehicle, there was a knife, a pawn shop receipt for a gun and homosexually-oriented literature. However, none of those items was collected for evidence by Handy, West's lawyer argued. In fact, it was West's attorney who checked the vehicle. There were also the issues about Ross's taped interview which had been recorded over. West's conviction was eventually overturned in 1997 and reduced to a 10-year sentence, most of which he had already served.
1992 - Jeffrey Clark and Garr Hardin
Rhonda Sue Warford had been stabbed to death, and her body was found in Meade County. Clark and Hardin were arrested in connection to her murder. The allegations revolved around a satanic cult, including claims that Hardin killed animals. Handy testified Hardin told him he "got tired of looking at animals and began to want to do humans." That's something Hardin denied saying. There were also questions revolving around a blood-stained rag, which was taken as evidence in the case. Both Hardin and Clark were sentenced to life in prison. The Innocence Project got involved in 2009. Modern DNA testing revealed it was Hardin's blood on the rag, which is what he had testified during trial. Their convictions were later overturned after they both served 22 years in prison. They filed a federal lawsuit in July 2017. They have been granted a new trial.
1993 - Edwin Chandler
Brenda Whitfield, 25, was shot and killed at a Chevron gas station. The shooting was captured by surveillance video. However, that tape was later recorded over with a video of David Letterman. A former employee, who was not present at the time of shooting, stated the shooter looked like Chandler, who was 19 at the time. At first, Chandler turned himself in on an unrelated check fraud warrant and told police he did not have anything to do with Whitfield's murder. But, he later confessed to the crime and was arrested and charged with Whitfield's death. During his trial in 1995, Chandler testified that his confession was false after being threatened by Handy that he'd arrest his sister for harboring a criminal. Chandler also stated that he was fed information by Handy in relation to the murder. Chandler was convicted of manslaughter and first-degree robbery. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In April 2002, Chandler was released from prison on parole. The Innocence Project got involved. In 2009, fingerprints on a bottle set on the counter by the shooter were found to belong to another man, Percy Phillips. Chandler was exonerated and Phillips was charged with Whitfield's murder. In October 2012, Chandler's civil lawsuit settled for $8.5 million. During those court proceedings, the court questioned Handy's investigations and truthfulness, acknowledging Handy had lied under oath in other cases as well. WAVE 3 News found out that multiple investigations into Handy had already been conducted.
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