Prosecutor Misconduct No. 1673130978 - 91427646

Daniel J Straka
111 South Michigan Avenue
Saginaw, Michigan 48602

Reporting Authority

This complaint has been forwarded to the State Bar of Michigan


Rhonda Sanders 9010 S Priest Dr. Unit 2197 Tempe, AZ 85284 (972)505-0394 [email protected] December 13, 2022 To whom it may concern: My name is Rhonda Sanders. I am requesting an investigation into the misdeeds of Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel J. Straka (P76790). Mr. Straka is the prosecutor for juvenile cases in Saginaw County. He has colluded with the Saginaw Police Department to cover-up the unlawful arrest of Keon D. Sanders (Case # 22-50558-DL). Keon was arrested by the Saginaw Police on July 17, 2022. I am his legal guardian and maternal grandmother. He resides in Tempe, Arizona with me. They are engaging in retaliatory behavior due to Keon filing a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Mr. Straka has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. He has engaged in improper plea-bargaining, failed to turn over exculpatory evidence, tampered with evidence, coached and assisted officers’ in providing false/perjured testimony and misrepresented facts/lied to the court. He is prosecuting Keon without probable cause. 1. Mr. Straka violated Rule 3.8(a) The prosecutor in a criminal case shall: refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause; Mr. Straka is aware that the Saginaw Police wrote a probable cause statement fabricating a justification for why they arrested and detained the Defendant. They submitted charges against him based on fabricated rendition of facts (Exhibit A). The officers lied in their report. As a result of the fabrication, the Defendant is now being maliciously prosecuted by Mr. Straka without probable cause. 2. Mr. Straka violated Rule 3.8 (d) to make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor. Mr. Straka colluded with Saginaw Police Department to withhold exculpatory evidence. He has not been forthcoming with evidence to the Defendant’s attorneys. After the Defendant’s grandmother/guardian realized Mr. Straka was withholding exculpatory evidence, she submitted multiple FOIA requests. Cathy Starling, the Department’s Support Services Administrator intentionally delayed her request, violated FOIA policy and withheld exculpatory evidence. She received multiple email messages from Cathy stating she was out of the office. FOIA policy states the information should be provided in 5-days. She spoke with Cathy 30 days after her FOIA request and she stated the information was mailed. She later stated it was mailed to the wrong address. She sent a 10-day extension for information that was readily available. Cathy withheld evidence with the intent of prejudicing the defense and assisting in the unjust prosecution of a child. She has refused to provide the body camera footage of what led to the arrest, the dash camera footage and the body camera user compliance reviews. 3. When the Defendant’s guardian finally received the body camera clips there was no footage of what led to the arrest. The Defendant’s attorney questioned why there were missing clips/evidence. She referenced the missing body camera and dash camera videos in the Motion to Dismiss. Withholding evidence is a Brady violation. In the landmark case of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U. S. 83 (1963), the Supreme Court declared that, regardless of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution, the suppression of evidence favorable to the accused violates due process where evidence is material to either guilt or innocence. The Defendant has attached copies of the email communications with Attorney Libby Dill and Cathy Starling as proof of the Saginaw Police Department’s Brady violation and Mr. Straka’s violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct (Exhibit G and H). 4. Mr. Straka coached and assisted the officers in providing false/perjured testimony. Detective Accardo testified during the preliminary hearing that the Defendant was arrested for refusing to leave. Officer Harris stated in his report that they arrested the Defendant because he refused to get in the vehicle and leave. Officer Doud’s report stated the same. However, Officer Luth stated in his report that Officer Harris pulled the Defendant out the backseat and the other officers assisted. Officer Harris and Officer Doud neglected to include this glaring detail in their reports (Exhibit B). Officer Harris can be heard on body camera stating “He thought it was a joke. He didn’t want to leave so I pulled him out of the vehicle and he decided to fight.” Officer Harris’ statement contradicts his report. Video evidence shows the Defendant did not fight. They dragged him out of the vehicle. He did not have control of his legs and he had his phone in his hand. They then forced him to the ground, restrained him and Officer Doud deployed his service issued pepper spray. 5. Officer Harris and Officer Luth both testified that Mr. Straka showed them Officer Doud's body camera footage of them dragging the Defendant out of the vehicle. They have since changed their statements. They are now stating they arrested the Defendant for disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. Mr. Straka and the Saginaw Police are aware that video evidence shows the officers dragged the Defendant out of the vehicle. Officers cannot change statements made in an official document because the evidence does not align with their reports and that is exactly what has occurred in this case. 6. The hearing on August 16, 20222 was adjourned until September 14, 2022, due to missing body camera clips/evidence (please see email communication with Libby Dill). It is inconceivable that all three (3) officers involved in the arrest forgot to turn their body- worn-cameras on. The department has a body camera policy that states “Members failing to comply with any of the standards set forth in this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including discharge (Exhibit C). It is also inconceivable that the patrol vehicle parked directly in front of the incident was not working/did not capture the arrest. The purpose of the body and dash cameras is accountability and transparency. The officers changing their statements and the withholding of exculpatory evidence has been highly prejudicial to the defense. 7. The Defendant’s attorney filed a Motion to Dismiss based on the unlawful arrest, officers’ reports and video evidence which showed the Defendant did not refuse to get in the vehicle, the officers’ false statements and the lack of probable cause for the arrest. Police are required to be truthful in all matters; don’t exceed their authority; don’t knowingly restrict the freedom of individuals; refrain from any conduct in an official capacity “that detracts from the public’s faith in the integrity of the criminal justice system.” 8. On September 14, 2022, the Defendant’s attorney questioned the officers based on the information in their reports. She was unaware that they had been coached by Mr. Straka and their statements had changed. The Defendant’s attorney was blindsided and the motion hearing was not successful. Mr. Straka has reviewed the police reports and the video evidence. He is aware that the officers lied. He is also aware of the inconsistencies in their reports. Yet, he continues to pursue charges against a child without probable cause. 9. Officer Harris stated in his report that the arrest was due to the Defendant not getting in the vehicle and leaving within the time allowed. The Defendant is a child. He attended a party with family and friends while he was in town for his grandmother’s funeral. He was not unsupervised and he was not the driver of the vehicle therefore he could not leave. The officer’s orders and the arrest were unlawful. The Defendant was in the backseat with his cousin. He was attempting to leave but he could not leave without the driver. Officer Doud’s body camera footage, Officer Luth’s report, witness videos and Officer Harris’ statement on body camera contradicts Officer Harris and Officer Doud’s report that the Defendant refused to get in the vehicle. 10. On September 14, 2022, Officer Harris testified that the body-worn-cameras are connected to a system that can tell when they are activated. He also stated it beeps once when you turn it on, twice when you turn it off and every 5 minutes. The officers would have known if their cameras were not on. Based on Officer Harris’ testimony the Court ordered Mr. Straka to provide the defense with documentation showing when the officers turned their body cameras on and off (Exhibit D). The Court scheduled a Status Conference for October 12, 2022, for follow-up. Mr. Straka had an entire month to comply with the Court’s order. Mr. Straka intentionally disregarded the Court’s orders and Judge Meter gave him additional time (another month) to provide the defense with the evidence. He has yet to comply. 11. The documentation would show whether or not the department is withholding exculpatory evidence and if their actions are malicious. On October 20, 2022, Mr. Straka and the Saginaw Police provided the defense with a copy of an email from an IT company stating several features were off for the agency (Exhibit F). Those features and the email have absolutely nothing to do with the Court Order. The Court Order was for the Body-Worn-Camera User Compliance Reviews for the officers involved. Reviews that Officer Harris testified on September 14, 2022, were available. 11. Mr. Straka continues to pursue charges against the Defendant although he has no admissible evidence, the officers’ violated the department’s use-of-force policy by dragging him out the vehicle. There was no probable cause for the arrest, the officers provided false/perjured testimony, they changed their statements and Officer Doud’s body camera shows them dragging him out the vehicle. He has not complied with the Court order to provide documentation showing when the officers turned their body cameras on and off. He is colluding with the Saginaw Police to cover-up an unlawful arrest at the expense of a child with a promising future. Officers not complying with the department’s policies and providing false/perjured testimony which is punishable by up to four (4) years in prison is no different than a citizen violating the law. Those who enforce the law should be held to the same standards as those who break the law. 12. The arrest was unlawful. The Defendant did not refuse to get in the vehicle. He was in the vehicle and the door was closed. The officers opened the door and dragged him out. They wrote a probable cause statement fabricating a justification for why they arrested and detained him although there was no justification for the arrest. The prosecution must establish that the officers acted lawfully as an actual element of the crime of resisting and obstructing a police officer, under MCL 750.81d. The Defendant argues that the officers acted unlawfully since there was neither a crime committed in their presence, nor probable cause to believe that a felony occurred, nor probable cause to arrest pursuant to exigent circumstances. There is not a shred of evidence that the Defendant committed a crime. He did not refuse to get in the vehicle and Officer Harris testified on September 14, 2022, that he didn’t. 13. The Defendant is being charged with assaulting, resisting and obstructing. R & O is used and abused by police when there is no justification for an arrest. How can resisting arrest be the only charge when it requires police contact? How can a child be ordered/forced to leave an event when he is a passenger in a vehicle? How can officers order the Defendant to get in a vehicle then drag him out the vehicle? How can the Defendant be arrested for resisting arrest when excessive force was used to drag him out of a vehicle? How can you drag someone out of a vehicle then charge them with resisting? The Defendant got in the vehicle like he was told. The door was closed then three (3) grown men opened the door and dragged him out. Once he was in the vehicle the harassment should have ended. They shouldn’t have opened the door and dragged him out. The Saginaw Police Department updated their use-of-force policy in June/2020 after George Floyd was murdered. They added requirements regarding de-escalation of any police-citizen encounter. Those requirements were not met by the officers involved. 14. The Saginaw Police/Mr. Straka is withholding exculpatory evidence. They have not provided body camera footage of what led to the arrest. They have not provided dash camera footage of the patrol vehicle that was parked directly in front of the incident. They have not provided the Court ordered Body-Worn-Camera User Compliance Reviews for the officers involved. The officers have provided contradicting statements regarding the arrest. They changed their statements. They provided false/perjured testimony. As previously stated, Mr. Straka does not have a shred of evidence that proves the Defendant is guilty of resisting and obstructing or committing a crime. He refuses to provide body and dash camera footage. 15. The Defendant has filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The complaint is currently being investigated. Civil rights laws prohibit retaliation or discrimination against any person who filed a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing. The Saginaw Police is engaging in retaliatory behavior. Several members of the community have written letters in support of the Defendant including the former City Council member (Exhibit E). She stated in her letter the officers should have turned their body worn cameras on. She expressed her disappointment that safe guards she personally voted for while on the City Council were conveniently turned off during the police encounter. However, based on the actions of the Saginaw Police Department, Mr. Straka and Officer Harris’ testimony, the Defendant no longer believes the officers did not turn their body-worn cameras on. There are too many mishaps, inconsistencies, substandard behavior issues and noncompliance of policy standards that occurred for any reasonable person to believe this anything more than a cover-up. Sincerely, Rhonda Sanders