Race question leads to tension and shoving in Kilpatrick case - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Question about race leads to tension and shoving in Kilpatrick case

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Tense moments outside of court between Defense Attorney Mike Rataj and Fox 2 Reporter M.L. Elrick.   (Photo WJBK) Tense moments outside of court between Defense Attorney Mike Rataj and Fox 2 Reporter M.L. Elrick. (Photo WJBK)

On the final day the defense made its closing argument in the Federal Corruption Trial involving former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson, tensions were high outside the courthouse.

Inside defense attorney Gerald Evelyn just completed telling jurors that prosecutors are trying to turn relationships into crimes.
Evelyn quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and held the book "Profiles in Courage" as he made an emotional final argument to jurors on behalf of Bobby Ferguson.

Evelyn says Ferguson "earned every dime" he received through excavation and demolition work. He says it makes no sense that Kwame Kilpatrick had enough power to force large successful companies to take Ferguson on as a subcontractor.

After court was adjourned, Fox 2's M.L. Elrick asked defense attorney Mike Rataj to clarify what he meant by saying the government has waged a 5 to 7 year campaign against his clients and about what was said during closing arguments, even throughout the trial.

Elrick: "Is the government racist, is that what you're saying?"

Rataj: "Did I say anything about that?"  "Are you ignorant?"  "You're an ignorant man."

Elrick as Rataj walks away: "C'mon Mike answer the question... be a man."

Rataj comes toward Elrick and yells:"Be a man?"

Rataj then shoves Elrick and the two exchange strong words.  At one point it looked like they may come to blows, but in the end Rataj walked away and Elrick went to work on his report for Fox 2 News.

Play the video to see the event as it was captured on camera during Elrick's report on Fox 2 News at 5pm.

Elrick tells Fox 2's Huel Perkins that he likes Mike Rataj, but it's a reporter's job to ask questions.

The trial continues on Friday when prosecutors will make their last argument  before the case goes to the jury.

Ferguson, Kilpatrick and Kilpatrick's father, Bernard, are charged with conspiring to enrich themselves by rigging contracts and extorting businesses that wanted city business.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)


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