GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A former detective who now teaches criminal justice at Grand Valley State University cringed as he watched video recordings of police interrogations during the Jodi Parrack investigation.
The video shows police lying repeatedly to former lead suspect Raymond McCann II as they tried to get him to confess to a crime they would later learn he didn’t commit.
The detective even lied about not lying.
“I don’t lie. I tell the truth and there is absolutely no doubt that you put her there,” the detective tells McCann.
“That is a deliberate lie,” criminal justice professor Brian Kingshott said.
>>Target 8: Jodi’s murder: Making a monster
Kingshott spent 32 years in police work in the United Kingdom, was trained at the London Metropolitan Police Detective Training School.
“It’s within the parameters of what is allowed in the interview,” Kingshott said — perfectly legal in the U.S.
But it’s not allowed in the U.K.
“I would have been grossly criticized by trying to do that,” he said. “I would have been pulled from the case.”
‘WE WANT THE TRUTH’
“We’re looking for the truth. That’s all we’re looking for. We want the truth. Sometimes the truth takes us where we don’t want to go, but it’s not up to me.”
Kingshott watched some of the more than seven hours of video-recorded interrogations, obtained by Target 8, as police zeroed in on McCann. He was questioned repeatedly in the Nov. 8, 2007, murder of 11-year-old Jodi, whose body was found in the Constantine Township Cemetery.
Police lied repeatedly in the interrogations, saying they had physical evidence McCann had touched Jodi, saying they knew he had dumped her body and that they had “insurmountable evidence” against him.
At one point, a detective told McCann he could put him “within a 7-meter radius” of where the body was found — before it was found by Jodi’s mother.
“This is unbelievable that you can just make up this,” Kingshott said. “To me, these lies are not even credible.”
The criminal justice professor also questioned why police kept suggesting scenarios — that McCann simply found the body, that he dumped her there after somebody else killed Jodi, that he accidentally killed her, or that he was a porn-watching pervert who trolled the streets for little girls.
“We can’t spoon feed ya,” a detective told McCann at one point.
“But they are,” Kingshott said. “That’s what they’re doing. They’re suggesting that time and time again.”
“They didn’t want information from him; they didn’t want anything from him. They had a scenario that they wanted him to agree with and to admit to. That’s all they wanted.”
The problem with police lies and suggestions, Kingshott said, is they sometimes lead to false confessions.
But in this case, McCann stood his ground — 86 times.
The interrogations helped lead to perjury charges against McCann and landed him in prison for 20 months.
“It doesn’t appear that what he’s saying is a deliberate lie,” Kingshott said. “Some of it may be confused. I would be confused after being put through all these scenarios.
Michigan State Police, which conducted most of the interviews, refused to be interviewed, but sent Target 8 a written statement. They said the interrogation techniques were “accepted and legal methods.”
Constantine Police Chief Mark Honeysett, who questioned McCann in prison — after Daniel Furlong confessed to killing Jodi and acting alone — still questions if McCann was involved.
“I’m not convinced one way or another,” he said.
However, the state police statement said its detectives are “convinced” that Furlong acted alone — clearing McCann in writing for the first time.
St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough, who filed the perjury charges against McCann, refused to comment.
The GVSU professor said cases like these show the need for change.
“It’s bullying,” Kingshott said. “There’s no other way of putting it. It is bullying, but as I say, the U.S. law allows this to occur. The detectives are doing what is allowed in the parameters of what they have been taught or what they have perceived to be the correct way to do it. It’s more a challenge to the criminal justice system to say this type of system is wrong. We need to change it.”
App users can click here to watch the video of McCann’s interrogation.