Tim Corbett speaks out about Police Tapes controversy
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- More than six years into the South Bend Police Tapes controversy, St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Commander, Tim Corbett, speaks out.
Corbett is among 4 law enforcement officers who were captured on a phone line that was mistakenly recorded. He tells ABC57 News that the controversy has impacted his career, his ability to solve cases and his family.
"My own daughter has been threatened with being kidnapped and raped because of this crap. Okay? “We’ve had people not want to talk to us on homicides because of the lies put out about us. How do I look you in the face and tell you, ‘I’m sorry your wife or daughter was killed, but people aren’t talking because of this kind of stuff.’?” Corbett said. “Every time I pick something up, it’s ‘Tim Corbett and the tapes, Tim Corbett and the tapes.’ Why? I’m not sitting here whining, but apparently I’m an easy target. I tell you what, this target is tired of taking it and I’m pushing back. You kick my cage, don’t be surprised what comes out the other side. I know a lot of things. I know a lot of things. There would be a lot of people out there who would be embarrassed by what I know.”
The case started in 2011 when the then South Bend Police Communications Director, Karen Depaepe, said she stumbled upon a recorded phone line that was not supposed to be recorded. Testimony from federal court in 2014 states it was February 4th. Depaepe was trying to troubleshoot the recording system when she heard the voice of Captain Brian Young. She says she believed the discussion was “disturbing” and potentially “illegal.”
In the ensuing months, she, with the knowledge of former Chief of Police, Darryl Boykins, made tapes of multiple conversations. She eventually filled out an officer’s report, nearly a year later.
All of this was happening while Brian young and everyone he was speaking with, had no idea they were being recorded.
According to federal testimony, Depaepe believed the line that was supposed to be recorded was that of Division Chief Steve Richmond. Richmond was conducting an internal investigation on an officer named Rick McGee, who happens to be Depaepe’s husband.
“I listened to the testimony. I know in my mind. I can tell you, 286,000 phone calls, 45 or 48 lines, you’re 50 feet away from where this conversation is happening. I would have simply walked over and said, ‘Hey Clifton, something is wrong with the phone. Hark, something seems to be amiss here. What can we do to rectify this situation?’” Corbett said when asked if he was skeptical of the reason behind the recordings.
We asked Corbett if he had listened to the tapes.
“Cannot listen to those tapes. I don’t know what people don’t get about this. It’s so simple. You cannot listen to the tapes. The city council can’t give approval. The mayor can’t give approval. If anyone of those people listen to the tapes, they get to go to the federal penitentiary because they were obtained illegally.”
Depaepe lost her job because of the incidents. Boykins was demoted. Still, litigation continues. The South Bend Common Council is still asking for recordings to be given to them in State Court.
“Transparency. That’s the word I hear. That must be the new buzz word in St. Joseph County is transparency. Well, I have in my hand right here a release of settlement agreement that was signed in November 2013. I haven’t heard the city council or their designees talk about this item.” Corbett said.
The document he is speaking about states, in part, the following: “The parties further agree that neither is aware of any evidence of illegal activity by the Wiretap Plaintiffs or any evidence that reveals that the Wiretap Plaintiffs used any racist word against Boykins.”
“Why are we arguing about something that was solved back in 2013 by Daryl Boykins signing this agreement and the city of South Bend signing this agreement?” Corbett said.
We asked Corbett if he has ever had a conversation with Young where racist terms were used.
“There’s nothing on these tapes. That’s what this issue is.” Corbett said. “Anybody tells you they haven’t said a word or words or whatever that they shouldn’t have, is a liar. Everybody has.”
“I took an oath to protect. Part of that protection is, I not only have to protect your life and your families lives, I have to protect the laws, what’s right and I have to protect the constitution. And if I lay down because it’s politically correct and it’s going to make everybody happy and we can all skip off into the sunset, holding hands and take a warm soapy shower together, and not fight for what that constitution stands for, then I’m a coward.” Corbett added.
We asked Corbett what he believes will finally end the controversy.
“Someone with the legal authority to go, ‘The tapes are not ever going to be played. The tapes are going to be destroyed.’” He said.