City Manager fires back at Innocence Project - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

City Manager fires back at Innocence Project

Lubbock City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld Lubbock City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld responded on Friday, to allegations that the city hasn't cooperated with family of a man who died in prison, after being wrongfully convicted in Lubbock.

Timothy Cole, was wrongfully convicted of a rape he did not commit while in Lubbock as a student of Texas Tech.  He died in prison in 1999 of complications from asthma. 

Members of the Innocence Project want to cross examine ex-police officers whose 1985 investigation led to the wrongful conviction of Timothy Cole. This week, the organization and other community members started a campaign for answers and an apology.

In a statement released Friday, Dumbauld says everyone with the City is sensitive to the Cole family's grief, but she says criticism against the city is misleading. According to Dumbauld, the city has cooperated in every state of the legal process that resulted in Cole's exoneration and has freely shared documents relating to the investigation.

Dumbauld says that the individuals who attorneys want to cross examine no longer work for the city and the city must respect their wishes.

Session's son, Timothy Cole, was wrongfully convicted of a rape he did not commit while in Lubbock as a student of Texas Tech.  He died in prison in 1999 of complications from asthma.  The Innocence Project of Texas was highly critical of the city, saying there had been no effort to change policies after police had falsely accused Cole of the 1985 rape.

"It saddens me greatly that Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas seems to be marketing Mrs. Session's grief," says City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld.   "This has the appearance of impugning the integrity of the devoted men and women of the Lubbock Police Department."

Dumbauld's complete statement is found below. 

"Timothy's mother, Mrs. Ruby Session, has lived a nightmare for 25 years that the rest of us cannot even imagine.  She wakes up every morning knowing that she lost a son, and that he spent almost a third of his life in prison for a crime that he did not commit.  All of us at the City are sensitive to her grief and pray that she can find some peace and relief for this horrible tragedy.

The City has been criticized for refusing to provide documents or to meet with Mrs. Session.  This criticism is misleading and inappropriate. The City has cooperated in every stage of the legal process which resulted in Timothy Cole's exoneration.  Police Chief Dale Holton wrote a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles supporting clemency for Mr. Cole.  The City has freely shared documents relating to the investigation, and also spent numerous hours providing information to an author who recently wrote a book on Mr. Cole. In that book, the author thanked the City and the Police Department for their cooperation.

The City has been specifically criticized for opposing attempts to cross-examine the individuals who participated in the investigation which resulted in Mr. Cole's wrongful conviction. The individuals involved no longer work for the City and we must respect whatever decisions they choose to make.

Chief Holton and I are more than willing to meet with Mrs. Session to discuss her concerns regarding the police department's past practices compared to current practices.  Again, we have the deepest sympathy and respect for Mrs. Session and her late son Timothy Cole.

It saddens me greatly that Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas seems to be marketing Mrs. Session's grief. This has the appearance of impugning the integrity of the devoted men and women of the Lubbock Police Department.  These officers follow a strict, professional code of conduct.  They protect our lives and property by risking their own.  We stand behind our officers and support them in the difficult and selfless role they perform for the citizens of Lubbock.  It is disheartening that the only times Mr. Blackburn communicates with the City is when he is threatening litigation."

-- Lee Ann Dumbauld City Manager, City of Lubbock, Texas


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