- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit police officer has been charged with lying to investigators during a homicide probe.

Elijah Lately, 25, was named in an indictment unsealed Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court. He was indicted Friday by a one-man grand jury, prosecutors said.

Lately was identified as a potential witness in the April 23 shooting death of Brandon Rice on the front porch of his home in the Detroit enclave of Highland Park. The officer was interviewed by state police and Detroit homicide detectives.

Lately “knew of the plan to kill Rice” but denied having any information about the homicide, the prosecutor’s office said in a release.

Dmarco Hoskins is charged with murder, conspiracy and witness intimidation in Rice’s death. A pretrial conference is Friday.

Rice was to testify against Hoskins in a separate case.

“The allegation that a police officer would sit on knowledge regarding a homicide … is shocking, quite frankly,” Chief Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny said. “Not only is it a threat to the community, but a threat to the court system.”

There was bad history between Rice and Hoskins, including an incident in March where Rice was shot and wounded. Hoskins fled and was indicted on assault with intent to murder, assistant prosecutor Anna Posigian said in court Monday.

“The purpose of having Brandon Rice killed was twofold,” Posigian said. “There was an ongoing dispute between Mr. Hoskins and Mr. Rice, but … but more importantly, Brandon Rice was killed in order to prevent him from testifying against Dmarco Hoskins in trial.”

Lately “had knowledge of the conspiracy” to kill Rice and “did nothing about it,” said assistant prosecutor Robert Moran. “And once he was interviewed about the homicide, he lied to police.”

Sebrina Johnson told reporters after the hearing that Lately, who is her nephew, didn’t know about the murder plot.

“He would never hurt anybody,” she said.

Lately, a four-year Detroit police veteran, was suspended without pay. He was ordered held on a $400,000 bond. A pretrial conference is scheduled Aug. 25.

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