Lamonte McIntyre says KCKPD framed him. If a jury agrees, the verdict could be 'huge'
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil, who is overseeing the Lamonte McIntyre civil case, also refused to move the October trial out of Kansas City.
The federal judge overseeing the civil case filed by Lamonte McIntyre, a Kansas City, Kansas, man wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years, said she’s concerned that if McIntyre wins, the verdict could be “huge.”
At the end of a two-day hearing on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil questioned the Unified Government's attorney about any monetary settlement talks, ordered mediation by June and appointed Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Tyrone Garner, a former KCK police officer, to help mediate the case.
“If it goes for plaintiffs, I think there’s going to be a huge verdict,” Vratil said. “I’d be concerned about the public interest and good government if you lose this case.”
Vratil’s comments came the same day KCUR reported that the UG has publicly warned municipal bond investors that an ongoing federal grand jury investigation and the McIntyre case could result in significant financial implications for the UG.
McIntyre alleges that he was framed for a 1994 double homicide by former KCKPD detective Roger Golubski, who was retaliating against him because McIntyre’s mother, Rose, spurned a romantic relationship with him after he sexually assaulted her. McIntyre is seeking $93 million in damages and Rose McIntyre, who is also a plaintiff, is seeking $30 million.
The McIntyres say the UG is liable for the actions of Golubski and other KCKPD officers named as defendants. The civil case details what the McIntyres say were decades of abuse by the KCKPD against the Black community and that the abuse was well-known within department ranks.
Vratil also denied a request by the UG and Golbuski to move the trial to Wichita because of pre-trial publicity. There’s no evidence of an impact on any potential jury pool, she said, and “the nature of the coverage has not been inflammatory or disrespectful."
“I think you might be overestimating how many people read The Kansas City Star and listen to public radio,” Vratil told the defendants' lawyers.
David Cooper, an attorney representing the UG, said the amount of pre-trial coverage of the McIntyre case has been so pervasive that they won’t be able to empanel an impartial jury here. How, he asked, will it be possible to keep the jury from seeing or hearing news on their phones, TV or radio during what’s expected to be a month-long trial?
Mike Abrams, an attorney for the McIntyres, argued it would be difficult for witnesses to travel to Wichita since many are elderly, infirm or low-income.
Vratil said she was confident an impartial jury could be seated, even if more news, such as "if an FBI investigation dropped down on us,” were to surface. In fact, a federal grand jury has been investigating a variety of unsolved homicide cases over the several decades that Golubski worked for the KCKPD, KCUR reported in January.
Vratil ordered the two sides to begin mediation by the end of June, even as they prepare for trial. Still, she said she doesn’t want a last-minute settlement that could fall apart.
“There will not be any settlements on the courthouse steps,” she said.
Any settlement must be approved by the UG Board of Commissioners.
Vratil also denied Golubski’s request for summary judgment in his favor, saying there were factual issues a jury must decide. Among other things, the McIntyres allege that the UG should be held responsible for Golubski and six other officers conspiring to maliciously prosecute Lamonte McIntyre for the crime he didn’t commit.