Two fired white Detroit police officers guilty of murder of Black man

Two fired white Detroit police officers guilty of murder of Black man

Two former Detroit police officers were recently found guilty of murder in the fatal beating of a Black motorist during a struggle outside a crack house.

A third former officer was found innocent on a lesser charge.

Larry Nevers, 53, and Walter Budzyn, 47, were convicted of second-degree murder in Malice Green’s Nov. 5 death. Robert Lessnau, 33, was acquitted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm.

Separate juries sitting simultaneously heard the two murder cases, while Lessnau opted to have Recorder’s Court Judge George W. Crockett Ill decide his fate.

Budzyn testified that he never hit anyone, while Nevers said he hit Green in self-defense.

All three were fired from the force after Green’s death.

Budzyn and Nevers face up to life in prison; no immediate sentencing date was set.

An autopsy showed Green, 35, died of at least 14 blows to the head and part of his scalp was torn off.

Green’s death spurred protests because Green was Black and the three defendants are White. But no testimony during the 11-week trial indicated that race was a factor in the beating. The supervisor of the three defendants, who is Black, was charged with misdemeanor neglect of duty. His trial date has not been set.

Prosecutors portrayed Nevers as an aging cop who was trying to teach Green the rules of the neighborhood by repeatedly smashing the blood-soaked man in the head with a flashlight.

Budzyn, prosecutors said, began the confrontation by leaping into Green’s car and hitting him on the hands and head until his partner took over the beating.

“It was simply the exercise of raw power over one human being by others,” Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Doug Baker told jurors.

Community leaders had predicted the city would remain calm regardless of the verdicts because the cases were tried in Detroit before predominantly Black juries and a Black judge, George W. Crockett III.

COPYRIGHT 1993 Johnson Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group