In light of the Baltimore Ravens playing the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII tonight, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today is talking about the events involving Ray Lewis in Atlanta the night of Super Bowl XXXIV. The AJC did a good job of burying the lede, however.
In my opinion, the big news out of this story is that the homicide detective who investigated the case is now saying that Lewis never should have been charged with murder. The detective is also critical of the rush to arrest and indict Lewis after he lied to police during the investigation. The detective implies pressure from above in the APD resulted in the charges.
The article also discusses the legacy of that night in Atlanta and how the Buckhead area has changed since then – none of the clubs that were the source of problems long before the incident in question are causing problems today, with most of them gone.
I know a lot of people feel strongly on either side of this issue, and I’m not weighing in there. I just find this information an interesting bit of context.
From the article:
The Buckhead slayings remain a stain on Atlanta and an open wound for the victims’ families. Two young men who had moved from Akron, Ohio, to Atlanta — Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24 — were killed by vicious stab wounds just hours after a Super Bowl, but no one was ever convicted.
The investigation remains raw with Ken Allen, who had just been promoted to his dream job as an Atlanta homicide detective. Allen was put in charge of the investigation but saw it hijacked by political forces, which ultimately caused the case to collapse at trial.
“The focus of the case was Ray Lewis, not necessarily because of the evidence but because he was a celebrity,” said Allen. “It was like they were star struck and saw this as a case that could make a career.”
Allen criticized the rush to quickly arrest and indict Lewis for murder. Lewis was questioned by police on Jan. 31 but lied to officers, saying he didn’t know what had happened or who was in his stretch Lincoln Navigator limo. Allen wanted another crack at questioning the hulking linebacker, having talked to Lewis’ limo driver, Bruce Fassett, who said he saw Lewis throw a punch during the fight. Allen disagreed with higher-ups who wanted to arrest him on murder charges.
“I don’t think Ray Lewis ever should have been charged with murder,” Allen said. “I don’t think he committed a murder. He would not have stabbed anybody. He had no reason to stab anybody.”
Allen goes into more detail:
Detective Allen was so disillusioned by the case he left the homicide unit and now is the president of Atlanta Police Department’s chapter of the International Brotherhood of Police officers, watching out for his brethren.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that Joseph Sweeting was the person who stabbed those men,” Allen said. “Sweeting bought the knives. He had been in federal prison, so he would have known how to shank fight,” he added, referring to how inmates crudely fashion weapons to kill or injure one another.
Allen also believes Lewis got out of the limo and threw Lollar into the tree before Lollar was killed. “Ray Lewis had already showed he was a person who didn’t mind fighting,” Allen said. “In this instance, he was defending himself and his party.”
— Sean Hackbarth (@seanhackbarth) February 3, 2013