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A case involving a pair of crooked Detroit police officers has heated up after a witness scheduled to testify against the cops was shot in an assassination attempt. Now, the other witnesses in the case have been moved to hidden locations out of concerns for their safety.

The Detroit News reports:

A witness who is scheduled to testify against allegedly corrupt Detroit narcotics officers was shot during an unsuccessful hit attempt, and other witnesses were relocated because their lives are in danger, federal prosecutors say.

According to a court transcript obtained Monday by The Detroit News, concerns for witness’ safety were discussed in a Nov. 9 hearing in the case of Detroit narcotics officers Lt. David “Hater” Hansberry and Bryan “Bullet” Watson. They are accused of stealing cocaine from drug dealers and giving it to informants to sell.

“We have legitimate witness safety concerns,” said assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Gabel, according to the transcript. Gabel was in charge of the case before moving to private practice.

The discussion occurred during a final pretrial conference, in which the defendants’ attorneys asked to have the Dec. 1 trial date postponed. They wanted additional time to study new material that included hundreds of pages of documents and transcripts from wiretaps and more than 1,000 phone calls.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy agreed to move the trial to June 7; it was the fourth time the trial date has been rescheduled. Indictments were handed down in April against the officers and a third defendant, Kevlin Omar Brown, who is referred to in court documents as an “associate” of Hansberry.

Although Judge Murphy acknowledged that moving the Hansberry and Watson trial to next summer could prove detrimental for witnesses, he had no other choice.

The indictment reveals that the officers used street informants to set up fake drug deals so they could rob the dealers and squeeze more money out of them. This involved traffic stops, false arrests and the theft of drugs among other crimes. The officers often carried out these actions while adorned in police gear or in department vehicles.

The witness was shot over the summer and the Detroit News wisely withheld his name from publication. The shooting occurred just days after the witness agreed to testify against the corrupt duo.

Photo: Sean Davis/CC BY-ND 2.0

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