Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announces charges in cases involving police officers at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press
Among those charged is an officer who allegedly beat a customer at the Meijer in Detroit while working security there.
One man was beaten with a baton, breaking several teeth.
Another was punched, kicked and pepper-sprayed.
A third man was pummeled in the face.
They’re separate incidents with a common thread: Current and former Detroit police officers are accused of assault in each case.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges in a news conference Wednesday, saying her office won’t shy away from tough decisions and tough cases.
“We will never turn away or run away from a tough case even if it involves law enforcement,” she said.
In addition to the Detroit officers, Worthy also announced charges against a former Michigan State Police trooper in connection with the death of a teen shot who crashed his ATV after being shot with a Taser.
Two of the Detroit officers and the state trooper are expected to be arraigned Thursday, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the criminal charges don’t reflect the work being done by the majority of police officers.
“Anytime an officer violates the oath of office, public trust, it is a stain on all of us,” he said, “but we should remember it does not reflect the vast majority of the men and women who do this work.”
Before Worthy announced her charging decisions, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality issued a statement saying citizens deserve to be protected from rogue officers.
“It is clear that the Detroit Police and Michigan State Police Departments nurture a culture of irresponsible action on the part of their respective police forces,” the statement said in part.
Detroit Police Officer Lonnie Wade, 65, was charged in the assault of David Bivins at the Meijer store on West 8 Mile Road on Oct. 10. Wade, who was in a police uniform while moonlighting as a security officer, struck Bivins with a baton, including in the face and head. Worthy said Bivins was struck in the mouth, breaking several of his teeth.
Worthy said there are several videos of the incident. She said the incident started after Wade approached Bivins asking about items in his shopping cart. Bivins, according to prosecutors, said his girlfriend had the receipt, which Worthy said she showed to Wade.
Worthy said Bivins and Wade began arguing. She said Wade attempted to arrest Bivins on disorderly conduct charges after hitting him with his baton.
“Mr. Bivins did refuse to be arrested, but at no time, the evidence shows, did he make any physical threat or verbal opposition other than trying to pull himself backwards,” Worthy said.
Wade is facing charges of felonious assault, assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and two counts of misconduct in office. He’s expected to be arraigned Thursday.
Bivins, 24, spoke at a news conference at attorney Geoffrey Fieger’s office after the charging decision was announced. He said he hasn’t watched video of the beating all the way through.
Bivens, who is a cook at a Ferndale restaurant, said before the incident he wanted to be a police officer, but that is no longer his dream today.
“I would like to believe that police officers in a way police themselves, but if that is true why are we here today?” he said.
Bivens has filed a lawsuit seeking in excess of $25 million against Meijer, Wade, three other security guards and another Detroit police officer moonlighting at the store.
Craig said Wade has been on restricted duty, no gun status since October and will now be suspended with pay. Craig said he plans to recommend to the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners that Wade be suspended without pay.
Craig said he plans to ask that another officer facing charges in connection with an assault, Richard Billingslea, be suspended without pay. He, too, will immediately move to suspended with pay from restricted duty no gun status.
Billingslea, 25, is accused of assaulting Michaele Jackson at a Mobil gas station in an incident caught on cell phone video. Worthy said Billingslea pepper-sprayed Jackson, who was intoxicated and not a threat, threw him to the ground and repeatedly punched and kicked him.
Worthy said Billingslea is also accused of turning off his body camera and throwing away the cell phone being used by D’Marco Craft to record the incident. Worthy said the phone was retrieved from a trash can later by another officer.
Billingslea, who is also expected to be arraigned Thursday, has been charged with assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder, aggravated assault, obstruction of justice, misconduct in office and assault and battery, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Also charged is former Detroit Police Officer Edward Hicks, who is accused of assaulting Deonta Stewart in August 2016, then telling him to lie about his injuries.
Craig said Hicks is currently working for a sheriff’s office in the state of Washington. Craig said that agency would be notified.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Stewart was walking when Hicks and his partner drove up and Hicks yelled for him to stop. Worthy said Stewart ran, but stopped and laid on the ground when he realized police were chasing him. She said Hicks then allegedly punched Stewart in the face multiple times.
Worthy said Hicks allegedly tried to get Stewart to lie about how he was injured.
Hicks is facing charges of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder, aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office.
Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, said the officers are entitled to due process. He said Billingslea and Hicks are currently being represented by DPOA attorneys.
“It’s the prosecutors’ burden to prove that they did something wrong,” he said. “And, to be very blunt, we have to remember that.”
At the news conference Wednesday, Worthy also announced that her office denied a warrant request in connection with the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Raynard Burton by a Detroit police officer in February.
She said the shooting happened after officers saw a speeding Pontiac Bonneville and chased it. The car sped away, crashed and Burton ran, ignoring requests to stop. Worthy said Burton was shot by one of the officers, who said Burton had grabbed for his gun.
An autopsy found he died from a single, close-range gunshot wound to his right chest, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Worthy said the investigation found that the Bonneville had been taken in a carjacking two days earlier and the victim in that case later identified Burton during a photo lineup as the alleged carjacker.