When Nelthrope reported a wild party at the mayor's mansion and the alleged assault of a stripper there by the mayor's wife, the deputy police chief for internal affairs, Gary Brown, started to investigate.
Brown was a former marine and decorated 26-year Detroit police veteran. He was new in the internal affairs job, but had spent 15 years in narcotics and had been shot by a drug dealer in the line of duty.
Nelthrope claimed bodyguards were padding their timesheets, drinking on duty, having accidents and not reporting them. Those complaints were easy to verify, Brown said.
"Nelthrope's complaints had some validity to them, although they needed to be investigated further, there was credibility to Nelthrope's complaints," Brown said.
"I never got the chance to launch the full investigation," Brown said. "I was fired by the mayor prior to being able to do that."
Brown says he was called into the police chief's office and handed a letter signed by Mayor Kilpatrick relieving him of his command.
"I was fired," he said. "I mean, when they bring you into an office on a Friday and take your gun and your badge and your keys and lock you out of your office and then send your belongings home in a box? You're fired."
Brown fought back, along with Nelthrope, taking their claims to court under the whistle-blower law, and opening a Pandora's Box of allegations against the mayor and members of his administration, including Beatty.
"It wasn't about officers padding the payroll and it wasn't about the crashed cars," Brown said. "It was about the mayor being concerned that if we started to do an investigation regarding those issues that the onion would start to unravel, and as we interviewed executive protection officers, that the affair that he was having with Christine Beatty might come up."
On the witness stand last fall, the mayor forcefully denied that Brown was fired at all, saying he was just demoted, and denied any inappropriate relationship with Beatty, but the jury found in favor of the whistle-blowers, awarding them $6.4 million.
Kilpatrick vowed to appeal, citing the racial makeup of the jury. Then, suddenly, in an abrupt turnabout, a settlement was reached for $8.4 million. Detroiters were left scratching their heads and counting their tax dollars.
Why settle? Because a trove of 14,000 text messages sent between Kilpatrick and Beatty on city-issued pagers was obtained by the whistle-blowers' lawyer, Mike Stefani. The text messages directly contradicted the mayor and Beatty's sworn testimony.
On the stand, Kilpatrick testified that he did not fire Gary Brown. Instead, he said Brown "chose to retire."
But in a text message dated May 15, 2003, 11:02 a.m., Beatty wrote: "I'm sorry that we are going through this mess because of a decision that we made to fire Gary Brown. I will make sure that the next decision is much more thought out. Not regretting what was done at all, but thinking about how we can do things smarter."
Kilpatrick replied: "True! It had to happen though. I'm all the way with that!"
As for the relationship between Beatty and Kilpatrick, there was this exchange. "I'm madly in love with you," Kilpatrick wrote on Oct. 3, 2002.
Beatty replied: "I hope you feel that way for a long time. In case you haven't noticed, I am madly in love with you, too!"