South Bend council urged to stop seeking police recordings

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Two of the four South Bend police officers whose telephone recordings are at the center of a police wiretapping case want city council members to end their pursuit of those recordings.

The case stems from allegations that accidental recordings of a police department phone line may have captured high-ranking officers making racist comments about the city's then-police chief and discussing breaking the law.

The Common Council has issued two subpoenas seeking the release of the recordings. Those subpoenas remain the subject of litigation.

Officer Tim Corbett urged the council Monday to stop seeking the recordings and said any claims about their content are "fallacies," the South Bend Tribune reported.

"I'd like to know where all these facts are coming from," he told the council.

Lt. David Wells, assistant commander of the Metro Homicide Unit, also urged the council to end its efforts, saying the case had created an "atmosphere of hostility."

"I am asking this body to stop pursuing efforts that continue to prolong this drama with no apparent end in sight," he said in a prepared statement.

Wells and Corbett's remarks were their first public comments about the recordings. They previously shared in a $500,000 city settlement in a case that also involved officers Steve Richmond and Brian Young, as well as Young's wife.

The five had sued the city for defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A federal judge ruled last month in a separate case that the police department violated the law by continuing to record telephone conversations after learning in early 2011 that the line was being inadvertently taped. But the judge said recordings made on or before Feb. 4, 2011, didn't violate the law and could be released because nobody intended to record the line.

Former police communications director Karen DePaepe has claimed in court documents the recordings captured high-ranking officers making racist comments about then-police Chief Darryl Boykins, who is black, and discussing breaking the law.

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