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Now-retired KCK police detective Roger Golubski has been accused of putting an innocent man in jail and terrorizing Black women for decades. KCUR 89.3 and the Midwest Newsroom will continue to follow developments.

Federal probe into Kansas City, Kansas, Police is looking at officer misconduct, decades of homicides

Exterior image of a brick building with marble columns and a black-lettered sign that reads "Police Headquarters" next to an official seal that shows an eagle.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, at 700 Minnesota Ave.

Federal subpoenas reveal a sweeping investigation into the KCKPD during the time former detective Roger Golubski worked on the force, including demands ranging for more than two decades of homicide cases to a single rape kit.

A federal grand jury has demanded that the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department hand over records covering two decades of homicide cases, internal affairs reports and informant files as part of what appears to be a wide-ranging investigation.

The nine subpoenas obtained by KCUR through a Kansas Open Records request reveal a search for information on homicide cases that cover the years Roger Golubski worked as a KCKPD detective, through 2010, the year he retired from the department.

KCKPD and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansasconfirmed in October that since 2019 they were cooperating with a federal grand jury looking into allegations against Golubski.

Golubski is accused in a civil lawsuit of routinely exploiting Black women in Kansas City, Kansas, with sex and drugs, both for his own gratification and to pressure victims into fabricating testimony to clear homicide cases he investigated. In court filings, he has denied those claims.

But the subpoenas, issued between June 2019 through November 2021, indicate that the Justice Department may be casting a wider net than just Golubski. One subpoena seeks records related to five different officers.

Although the records are heavily redacted, they provide the best public window yet into the federal investigation of a police department that many in the Kansas City, Kansas, community say has been corrupt and not held accountable for decades.

Golubski's name came to prominence during an exoneration hearing for Lamonte McIntyre, a Kansas City, Kansas, man who was convicted of a 1994 double murder after allegedly being framed by Golubski and a Wyandotte County prosecutor. McIntyre was exonerated and released from prison in 2017 after serving more than 23 years. Golubski has denied the allegations and in a November 2020 deposition in a civil lawsuit brought by McIntyre and his mother, he assertedhis Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 555 times.

Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University who was not involved in the case, said the first batch of subpoenas appeared to seek broad swathes of information, including 22 years of homicide cases and internal affairs reports on several officers. Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, said federal authorities could be focused on a particular case to see the larger picture.

“You don’t know where you’re going to find that needle in the haystack,” she said.

Federal investigators could be focused on Golubski because they need to find red flags and patterns of conduct and to see how widespread potential problems could be, she said.

“They have to focus on this guy’s misconduct, but the feds care more about systematic problems,” Levenson said. “You bring in the feds when you have a problem that has metastasized.”

Nancy Chartrand, a KCKPD spokeswoman, said the department is complying with the subpoenas and has turned over all of the requested documents and evidence. KCKPD is not aware of any current employees who have been subpoenaed and the federal grand jury is not investigating current personnel or practices, she said.

"The KCKPD has received no communication from the FBI that indicates that their investigation extends to our current department," Chartrand said.

The first subpoena, issued on June 7, 2019, asks the KCKPD to produce all records “related to the allegations made by (redacted) against former Officer (redacted) beginning in (redacted).” It also asks for 17 items that were part of an internal affairs investigation done in response to the allegations, but that list was also blacked out.

The same subpoena asks for all KCKPD or internal affairs records of investigations and complaints related to five other unnamed officers.

The FBI has offered a reward for information on Rhonda Tribue, a Black woman allegedly linked to Golubski and who was killed in 1998. Her case remains unsolved. In court papers, attorneys for McIntyre claim Golubski used Tribue as an informant. Last July, theKansas Bureau of Investigation handed over to federal authorities information from its own probe into sexual assault allegations against Golubski.

McIntyre’s lawyers are also seeking records associated with several unsolved homicides in their civil lawsuit against Golubski, the Unified Government and others.

Last April, McIntyre’s lawyers demanded the defendants turn over, among other things, photographs and investigative files of up to 19 women who were associated with Golubski. Some of the women, it was said, were murdered and had their cases investigated by Golubski, which McIntyre’s attorneys said amounted to “a clear conflict of interest.”

Activists have also called for a larger investigation by theU.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division.

In November,KCUR reported on two FBI investigations into the KCKPD in the 1990s that showedpolice beat Black people routinely, were said to be involved in the drug trade and ignored the city's crack cocaine problem.

In all, the subpoenas, with dates issued, seek:

June 7, 2019

  • Allegations made by an unidentified person against a former unnamed officer, with a redacted date.
  • All evidence collected and tested as part of an Internal Affairs investigation into those allegations, with 17 redacted items.
  • All records, including internal affairs, relating to complaints against or investigations conducted on five unidentified officers.

June 19, 2019

  • An unnamed case file, including notes, documents, evidence, records, recordings, reports or correspondence from a redacted date to the present.

September 6, 2019

  • Three unidentified homicide investigations, including lab reports or evidence test results.
  • All KCKPD homicides listings from 1988 through 2010.

August 14, 2020

  • Six homicide files of unidentified people, including dispatch reports, witness statements, crime scene photos and reports, audio or video recordings, evidence list, bullets, bullet fragments and bullet casings, lab reports on evidence and autopsy reports.
  • Drug, gang, violent crime, prostitution or homicide investigative files on four unidentified witnesses and victims of the homicide cases.
  • Files on 36 unidentified informants and “all informant files or databases registered to, completed by, or handled by an unidentified person.

October 19, 2020

  • Two homicide cases of unidentified people with case numbers redacted.

March 30, 2021

  • Three homicide cases of unidentified people, including dispatch reports, witness statements, crime scene photos and reports, evidence list, autopsy reports and investigator notes.
  • Photographs of several unidentified uniformed or plain-clothes KCKPD officers.

April 20, 2021

  • An unidentified homicide case, including dispatch reports, witness statements, crime scene photos and reports, evidence list, autopsy reports, investigator notes and electronic or written correspondence.
  • Records related to an unidentified person, who may have been a subject, witness or victim of any violent crime, prostitution, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking or gang crime.
  • Informant files on an unidentified person.

October 26, 2021

  • A homicide case file with three separate locations.

November 10, 2021

  • A rape kit, including records associated with it, on an unnamed person.
I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
Steve Vockrodt is the former investigative editor for the Midwest Newsroom.
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