In police sexual misconduct case, Michigan woman sues officer she accused of assault


Former Covert Township, Mich., police Officer Erich M. Fritz shortly after his arrest in 2016 for kidnapping and sexual assault. A law enforcement official is arrested about once every five days in the U.S. for sex-related charges. (Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office)

July 13, 2018

Melissa McMillan was catching a ride home after a night out drinking when her driver was pulled over by the police and accused of drunken driving. Rather than arranging a ride home for the passenger, the arresting officer took the very intoxicated McMillan to a hotel. She said that when she woke up, the officer was having sex with her.

In Covert Township, Mich., it was Officer Erich M. Fritz’s third, and final, job as a police officer. He was arrested in July 2016 and charged with kidnapping and two counts of criminal sexual assault. Fritz claimed the sex was consensual. He eventually pleaded no contest to unlawful imprisonment for the purpose of committing sexual assault. His sentence: one year in the county jail and five years of probation. Fritz served nine months and was released. “Unlawful imprisonment” is technically not a sex offense, and Fritz was not required to register as a sex offender.

Now, McMillan is suing Fritz, 43, and the small town that hired him, accusing him of abusing his police authority, as well as false imprisonment and emotional distress. Her attorneys say sexual misconduct is among the most common allegations against police — and a problem some experts say is likely underreported.

Researchers tracking “police crime” in one study found 771 sex-related cases during one four-year period, involving 555 sworn officers. An investigation by the Buffalo News in 2015 found that in a 10-year period, “a law enforcement official was caught in a case of sexual abuse or misconduct at least every five days. Nearly all were men. Nearly all victims were women, and a surprising number were adolescents.”

’My life was forever changed’: Victim of sexual assault by officer speaks out

Melissa McMillan released a statement following a 2016 incident where she said she was raped by a Covert Township police officer in Michigan.

McMillan, 40, said she is going public with her lawsuit, and her name, to call attention to the largely unrecognized problem and the fact “it can happen to anybody.”

“I’m a nurse,” McMillan said. “I’m a mom. I didn’t do anything wrong. If it can happen by a police officer, who can you trust?” Though news media typically withhold the names of alleged victims, McMillan told The Washington Post that she was not seeking anonymity because “there’s nothing to be ashamed of, there’s nothing to hide. For a long time I felt ashamed. It shouldn’t be that way.”

Fritz did not return a phone call seeking comment. His lawyer, Scott Grabel, said, “She’s got a story and Erich has a different story about what transpired. … It’s Mr. Fritz’s contention she was awake and voluntary as they were having sex. My position is I think it’s going to be a difficult case for the plaintiff.”

The top three elected officials in Covert Township, a town of about 3,000 on the shore of Lake Michigan, did not return messages seeking comment. The town hired Fritz two months before he was arrested, and when Van Buren County prosecutor Michael Bedford looked into Fritz’s past, he found Fritz had been bounced from two other small police departments for misconduct.

Fritz resigned shortly after his arrest, perhaps hoping to maintain his law enforcement certification before his department could impose its own discipline and take another step in the “officer shuffle” of officers who move from one department to another. Bedford called Fritz “a disgrace to the law enforcement community,” and said that “one of my goals was to get him convicted of a serious felony so he could never be a police officer again.”


Fritz snapped this selfie in the hotel room, according to the phone’s metadata, where he allegedly assaulted the woman. (Michigan State Police)

While working for a small department in North Dakota, Fritz posted photos of himself on an adult website in various states of undress, with his uniform visible in some of them, Bedford said. At another department in Michigan, Fritz was released for violating various policies, Bedford said.

McMillan was outraged to learn of Fritz’s past. “I think there was a failure in the hiring process, obviously,” she said. “Maybe if they had properly vetted him, this would not have happened.”

Most of the events of July 9, 2016, are not in dispute. McMillan admits to being very drunk after leaving Captain Lou’s, a bar in South Haven, Mich., and letting a male friend drive her car. But about 2:30 a.m., Fritz pulled the car over and soon placed the driver under arrest.

Fritz’s in-car video shows him removing McMillan from the car, and that she needed help getting to Fritz’s patrol car. Bedford said that a tow-truck driver told Fritz he’d give McMillan a ride home, while he was removing her car from the highway, but Fritz declined that offer. Instead, Fritz placed McMillan in the back seat with her driver, and switched off the in-car audio and video, McMillan’s lawsuit claims.

Fritz radioed to police dispatchers that he was taking his intoxicated passenger to a hotel, and this apparently did not trouble anyone working either in the Van Buren County dispatch center or on duty that morning because no one objected, McMillan’s lawyers said. “Nobody asked a question as to why or what he was intending on doing,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci.

Fritz drove McMillan to one hotel before booking his drunk driver but it was full, so he dropped her at a second hotel and told her to check in, but he had taken her wallet and phone, Bedford said. The hotel requested that Fritz return, which he did after processing his prisoner. Then Fritz took McMillan to a third hotel where he was keeping a room of his own because his home was elsewhere in Michigan and he and his wife hadn’t moved to Covert yet, Bedford said.

McMillan claims that she took a shower, vomited and passed out. When she awoke, she says that Fritz was having sex with her. She later texted friends saying she was scared and didn’t know where she was, and when she left the hotel she went to a hospital and had a rape examination, according to the lawsuit. The Michigan State Police soon began an investigation. Her lawsuit alleges that McMillan “continues to suffer from acute anxiety and depression as a result of her sexual assaults.”

Grabel said that McMillan was conscious when Fritz returned to the hotel, and that Fritz asked her if she had found a ride home. “Then she made advances on him,” Grabel said. “It was clearly consensual.” Grabel noted that Fritz’s shift had ended by the time of the sexual encounter, so he was off-duty, and said that Fritz passed two lie-detector tests. In Michigan, the standard for whether a person is unable to consent is not if they are intoxicated but whether they are unconscious, asleep or unable to communicate, Grabel said.


Erich Fritz was sentenced to one year in the county jail and five years probation in circuit court in Michigan. He went on to serve nine months. (Mark Bugnaski/MLive.com)

“I’m not here telling you it’s acceptable or appropriate, what he did,” Grabel said. He said Fritz resigned because “you’re not supposed to give people lifts to motels when you’re working. You don’t position yourself to be accused of that. But was there a sexual assault? My opinion, clearly not.”

At his sentencing in July 2017, Fritz apologized to his friends, family, co-workers and then to McMillan, but only for taking her to a hotel. “I never should have offered her a hotel room in the first place,” Fritz said, according to video of the hearing. “It never should have happened. I never should have put her in that situation.”

Bedford, the prosecutor, said he offered a plea deal because he wasn’t sure how a jury would respond to a police officer saying the sex was consensual, and that after the initial encounter there was further consensual sex. McMillan said she reluctantly agreed to the deal and that her memory of the night was blurry. Nicolette Ward, one of her lawyers, said McMillan subsequently had sex with Fritz because she felt trapped and had no choice.

Philip Matthew Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University, was a co-author of the 2015 study that found 771 sex-related charges filed against police in a four-year period. “The facts of the Erich Fritz case are troubling,” Stinson said. “My research has found that there are some, hopefully very few, police officers who are sexual predators.”

It should be noted that the rate of sexual assault occurring in the nation’s sworn police population, which was estimated at roughly 750,000 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2016, is far lower than the rate of sexual assault in the general population. But only officers and deputies have the powers of arrest as a possible tool of coercion.

But Stinson and others said the problem is likely underreported. “Most of the victims are terrified of reporting the assaults — who do you call when your assailant is a police officer?” Stinson said. “Also, as seen in Fritz’s case, it is typical to select a victim who was vulnerable, impaired, unable to defend herself, and one who the officer thought would not be believed if she came forward.”

Author Andrea J. Ritchie, who wrote the book, “Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color,” wrote in The Post earlier this year that police sexual misconduct is “a systemic problem” and that “accountability is rare.” She cited one study that found that 41 percent of officers charged with sexual violence had previous sexual misconduct charges but had been allowed to remain on the job.

She said some departments are taking steps to deter such misconduct. “Many departments already require officers to report mileage when they transport arrestees,” Ritchie wrote, ““in part to prevent detours to secluded areas to force or extort sex.”

Ward, McMillan’s lawyer, noted that sexual misconduct was the second most reported offense by police officers, after use of force. “We have to assume the numbers are broader than what’s reported,” Ward said. “Women are afraid to come forward, or fear they won’t be believed.” She said McMillan was believed because Fritz’s in-car camera showed the officer taking custody of the clearly drunk woman.

Advertisements

Ex-trooper charged in teen’s ATV stun gun death had previous Taser misconduct

https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/newpix/2018/04/13/20/4B20AD7400000578-0-image-a-32_1523646432663.jpg

DETROIT — Michigan State Police tried but failed to suspend a trooper for his use of a stun gun months before he fired a Taser at a teenager who crashed an all-terrain vehicle and died, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Mark Bessner is charged with murder in the death of Damon Grimes, but it wasn’t his only incident involving a Taser. Details are in personnel documents released to the AP through a public records request.State police wanted to suspend Bessner for 10 days for firing his Taser twice at a handcuffed man who was running away in 2016. But an arbitrator said there was no “just cause” for discipline.

https://media.ktvb.com/embeds/video/277-8095637/iframe

In 2014, Bessner fired his Taser at a suspect who was handcuffed. He agreed to a five-day suspension, records show, but four days were eventually dropped. It apparently was his first case of misconduct.

Bessner, 43, now faces serious legal trouble. He was charged last week with second-degree murder in the August death of Damon Grimes of Detroit, who was joyriding on an all-terrain vehicle when the trooper fired his stun gun. The 15-year-old crashed and died.

Bessner, who quit the state police after the teenager’s death, has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $1 million bond. Prosecutor Kym Worthy said there was no reason for him to fire his Taser — especially from a moving patrol car.

“His behavior was criminal. We’re not trying to pull the rug over anyone’s eyes,” a state police spokesman, Lt. Mike Shaw, said Tuesday.

Just two months earlier, an arbitrator had cleared Bessner of misconduct in how he used his Taser while chasing a crime suspect. The man was handcuffed during a traffic stop in Detroit but suddenly sprinted away and was able to clear fences.

Bessner said he believed the man must have slipped out of the cuffs so he used his Taser twice to subdue him. It was a wrong assumption. It’s generally against state policy to use a stun gun on a handcuffed person who’s in custody.

Arbitrator Steven Lett, however, found technical distinctions. He said the man was “no longer in custody” as soon as he ran away.

“The question is whether the officer’s actions are objectively reasonable in light of all the facts and circumstances,” Lett said, quoting a training guide from the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

If the 10-day suspension had been affirmed, it would have triggered an additional four days from the 2014 incident that were being held in abeyance, Shaw said.

Bessner’s personnel file shows he faced a third misconduct allegation in March. State police said he was driving at high speed without emergency lights or sirens. The case apparently wasn’t resolved before he quit last fall.

Bessner’s file also includes praise for his work. He was recognized by the department for saving a woman who had overdosed on heroin. “Best wishes for continued success,” Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue wrote in February 2017.

cbs news, , “Ex-trooper charged in teen’s ATV stun gun death had previous Taser misconduct”, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-trooper-charged-in-teens-atv-stun-gun-death-had-previous-taser-misconduct/

3 current, former Detroit police officers charged in separate assaults

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.

Gina Kaufman and Elisha Anderson, Detroit Free Press, Dec. 20, 2017, “3 current, former Detroit police officers charged in separate assaults”, https://www.freep.com/story/news/2017/12/20/3-detroit-police-officers-charged-separate-assaults-citizens/969035001/

6 Detroit police officers under investigation for misconduct

Associated Press Published 12:00 p.m. ET Nov. 1, 2017

Detroit police officials say six officers are under investigation for misconduct related to events that took place at the scene of a reported break-in over the weekend.

WDIV-TV reports that responding officers asked five members of a renovation and cleaning crew at the scene for work papers. They also ran checks on the workers’ names and licenses.

A complaint filed with the department alleges that an officer then ordered the men to run. The complaint says it was a way to humiliate the black contractors.

An investigation into the officer has been opened by the Office of the Chief Investigator, which is the investigative staff for the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners. The other five officers are under investigation for not intervening.

Snyder OKs law to ensure cops’ misconduct is known in hiring

How the system keeps some problem cops on the streets. The Detroit Free Press investigated police misconduct in Michigan. Here’s what we found. Detroit Free Press

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation aiming to prevent police misconduct from being kept secret when officers leave for a job at another department.

The law signed Tuesday takes effect in 90 days. It will require law enforcement agencies to keep records about the circumstances surrounding any officer’s employment separation. The officer will have to sign a waiver allowing a prospective employer to ask for the records, and the department will be unable to hire the officer unless it receives the documents.

The bill sponsor, Republican Sen. Rick Jones, says bad behavior by law enforcement should never be tolerated. He says the overwhelmingly majority of police and sheriff’s deputies are “great public servants,” but a “bad apple” can spoil everything.

A Free Press investigation published this summer while Jones’ bill was pending in the Legislature found that police departments routinely conduct background checks on prospective officers, but those checks are not always a deterrent to hiring cops with histories of problems. Law enforcement leaders said they routinely ask applicants to sign waivers so they can see personnel records from prior employers.

The investigation found that officers with histories of misconduct, lawsuits and even crimes have jumped from job to job in Michigan because of lax oversight and indifference by departments that hired them, in some cases, while fully aware of their prior issues. Jones’ bill, while requiring information-sharing, does not prevent local chiefs from hiring problem officers if the chiefs so desire.

The Free Press investigation pinpointed about two dozen current and former police officers who landed new jobs despite having serious misconduct and, in some cases, criminal histories.

Michigan aims to stop job-hopping after police misconduct

https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/southbendtribune.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/fa/dfac7b35-457b-532b-8816-88c71197cd31/59d3f37d1d548.image.jpg

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation approved here aims to stop police misconduct from being kept a secret when officers apply for a new job at another department.

The bill won approval 105-2 on Tuesday in the House after clearing the Senate earlier this year.

The legislation would require law enforcement agencies to keep records about the circumstances surrounding any officer’s employment separation. The officer would have to sign a waiver allowing a prospective employer to ask for the records, and the department could not hire the officer unless it receives the documents.

The bill sponsor, Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, said it targets officers who find other work after questionable conduct such as using excessive force.

Law enforcement agencies often decide it is easier to tell an officer to resign rather than fire him or her, he said, due to expensive legal bills and a lengthy hearing process. And when a prospective employer calls to inquire about hiring the officer, the department typically provides little information for fear of being sued by the officer, said Jones, a former sheriff.

“It’s just a commonsense way we hope to combat the gypsy cop,” he said of the legislation. The state Freedom of Information Act exempts law enforcement personnel records from public records requests unless the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in nondisclosure.

Jones introduced the bill after he said an Eaton County deputy who was accused of making an abusive and improper traffic arrest resigned and quickly landed a similar job in Lenawee County, only to be sued for two alleged assaults that occurred in his new job.

Under the measure, agencies would be required to let a separating officer review the separation record and to submit a written statement explaining the officer’s disagreement. The former employer would have to give a copy of the records to a prospective employer upon receiving a waiver.

The agency also would be immune from civil liability for disclosing the records in good faith.

The legislation won unanimous Senate approval in March and should soon reach Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk for his expected signature.

 

DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press, Michigan aims to stop job-hopping after police misconduct”, https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/publicsafety/michigan-aims-to-stop-job-hopping-after-police-misconduct/article_a9c69576-5a2d-5b3d-ad0b-a6d392053eec.html

Newly Hired Fort Smith Police Employee Resigns After Being Charged With Misconduct

5NEWS Web Staff and cjoellison, September 23, 2017

 https://localtvkfsm.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/rochon.jpeg?quality=85&strip=all&w=1540

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — The newly hired Fort Smith police deputy director of administrative services, Harold Rochon resigned from his position. Rochon had been employed for a week.

According to city administrator Carl Geffken, last Friday, Rochon spoke with Police Chief Nathaniel Clark and mentioned that an issue surfaced in Detroit and that it could result in criminal charges.

According to assistant Wayne County prosecutor Maria Miller in Detroit, Rochon is a former Detroit police official and has been charged with misconduct in office. Rochon was arraigned Tuesday in court and was released on a personal bond of $3,000, according to Miller.

Miller stated Rochon is accused of having Detroit officers build a deck at his home during work hours.

Rochon is scheduled to go back before a judge for a probable cause hearing on Sept. 19, said Miller, and before a judge on a preliminary examination on Sept. 25.

The position of  Fort Smith Police deputy director of administrative services is a position recently implemented at the department by request of current Police Chief Nathaniel Clark. Fort Smith Board of Directors approved the position earlier this year.

“Despite a thorough background investigation and polygraph, which we normally don’t do with civilian employees, this did not come up. We went as far as to give him the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), which civilian employees in the police department do not take except for dispatchers,” Geffken said.

5NEWS Web Staff and cjoellison, September 23, 2017, 5newsonline.com, “Newly Hired Fort Smith Police Employee Resigns After Being Charged With Misconduct”, http://5newsonline.com/2017/09/13/newly-hired-fort-smith-police-employee-resigns-after-being-charged-with-misconduct/

Lawsuit: Detroit police officer caught on tape body-slamming man ‘WWE-style’

Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press Aug. 25, 2017

Detroiters D’Marco Craft and Michaele Jackson are suing the city of Detroit and two 5th precinct officers, claiming they were maced and beat up for no justifiable reason at an east side gas station in May.

A trip to a gas station to buy cigarettes turned into a night of terror for two Detroit men who say they were ambushed by two rogue police officers — including one who allegedly maced and body-slammed one of them  “WWE-style.”

But while the assault went down, the men claim, one of them caught it all on video.

In a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court, Detroiters D’Marco Craft and Michaele Jackson are suing the City of Detroit and two 5th precinct officers, claiming they were harassed and physically attacked for no reason at an east side gas station in May.

Jackson, a 38-year-old bus driver with the Detroit Department of Transportation who claims to have a longstanding good relationship with police, said he never saw it coming.

“I went down WWE-style. I hit the racks with the Twinkies and the Ho Hos … It was like a nightmare,” Jackson said at a news conference today at his lawyer’s office in Southfield. “I feared for my life.”

Jackson said he never threatened the officers or made any physical contact with them, but was maced from behind while walking away and then thrown to the ground and beaten. He said he was placed under arrest that night and transported to an emergency room by ambulance for injuries — including bruises and cuts — sustained in the attack.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he has seen the plaintiffs’ video of the incident and is concerned by it. However, he said,  the gas station also has a video of the event and offers more details about what led up to the officer firing mace at Jackson.

“When you look at the store video, there is certainly more activity that led up to that,” Craig said. “The suspect did take a swing at the officer. I could not tell if that swing made contact.”

When asked if he was concerned about the officer spraying the mace after Jackson had walked away, Craig said: “That’s a concern, I’ll be candid. But I’m not prepared to make a decision.”

According to Craig, Officer Richard Billingslea — the accused attacker — has been working a desk job since shortly after the gas station incident and is still getting paid. He said it’s up to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to decide if Billingslea engaged in any criminal activity that would warrant criminal charges.

Craig said that if  Worthy decides not to bring charges, he will address the issue administratively. He said the police will release the gas station video later.

The other officer is Hakeem Patterson, who is accused in the lawsuit of standing by and letting the attack happen

Worthy’s office said it has received a warrant request regarding only Billingslea, but that it has not yet made a charging decision.

According to Craft, a 26-year-old criminal justice student who was taping the incident on his iPhone and has had past dealings with Billingslea — here is what went down at the gas station that night:

The two officers were already at the gas station when he and Jackson arrived. Craft recognized Billingslea — claiming the officer had harassed him multiple times in the past year, including driving by his house and flipping him off in front of his mother. So when Craft saw Billingslea inside the gas station, he left to avoid any confrontation.

But the officers followed Craft out of the store, with one of them hollering out to him: ” ‘You aint’ buying nothing today?”

Craft responded no “Cuz I know how you are. F— you.”

Craft said he suggested to his friend they go elsewhere for smokes.

Jackson saw no reason for that. So he went inside to buy his smokes. On his first attempt, Jackson claims he was tackled and thrown to the concrete face-first. On his second attempt, while at the counter, he claims he turned around and was maced in the face and eyes by Billingslea, who then threw him to the ground.

“Billingslea, without any warning whatsoever, then put his right arm around Mr. Jackson’s throat and violently spun Jackson around and body-slammed Mr. Jackson to the floor,” the lawsuit states. “Billingslea threw Mr. Jackson down to the ground so hard that Jackson was thrown at least 3-4 feet and landed on the floor after first slamming into a metal rack of Hostess treats, such as Snoballs and Dingdongs.”

According to the lawsuit, police told Jackson he was going to be charged with resisting arrest. However, the prosecutor’s office denied a request for an arrest warrant. To date, he has not been charged.

Craft, who was videotaping the incident, said the officers threatened to arrest him if he didn’t hand over his phone and passcode — so he obliged. The officers then smashed his phone on the counter and threw it in a nearby trash can, but another officer later retrieved it, he said.

According to Craft, his phone was held in a police evidence room for one month before he got it back. The video of the gas station incident was not released.

Neither man has any criminal convictions, records show.

Craft described Billingslea as a vindictive officer who smiles when he harasses people. He said Billingslea once got in his face and did a karate-chop move, grinning as he did to intimidate him.

Attorney Ari Kresch, one of two lawyers representing the plaintiffs, lambasted the police department for keeping Billingslea on the job and accused the force of “protecting rotten apples.”

“Why, why is Officer Billingslea still on the job?” Kresch said, disputing claims that Jackson fought the officers or resisted arrest.

“They’ve got to stop lying,” Kresch said. “This investigation should take only 30 minutes.”

Across the country, verdicts in police-brutality lawsuits range from tens of thousands of dollars to tens of millions of dollars.

On the higher end, a federal jury in Detroit awarded a $36.6-million verdict last November to a man who was beaten, dragged,  had his face smashed into a wall and was tied down with a bag over his head inside the Genesee County jailhouse in Flint. A jailhouse camera captured the incident. The jury saw the graphic video and delivered the verdict, which is rare for this area.

In 1999, a jury in Chicago awarded a $28-million verdict in a police brutality case that involved two police officers who beat a man into a coma who also became paralyzed.

In 1992, the City of Detroit paid $5.2 million to the family of Malice Green, an African-American man whose beating death at the hands of two white police officers triggered a firestorm of controversy. Green was beaten in the head with a flashlight after refusing to open his hand and allegedly relinquish a vial of crack cocaine. The two officers, Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers, were convicted in his death.

Kresch questioned why police won’t show the plaintiffs the gas station video, noting he’s asked for the video, but police won’t give it to him.

Craig said releasing the video right now is premature.

Kresch said Craig is mishandling the case.

“It’s a culture of backing up your officers,” Kresch said. “The chief was reckless.”

 The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

“The only thing that changes behavior is jail or money,” Kresch said. “In this case, there should be jail and money.”

Tresa Baldas, Aug. 25, 2017, Detroit Free Press, Lawsuit: Detroit police officer caught on tape body-slamming man ‘WWE-style'”, https://www.freep.com/story/news/2017/08/25/detroit-police-officer-caught-on-tape/602214001/

Detroit police officer facing child porn charges suspended

Ann Zaniewski , Detroit Free Press 3:41 p.m. ET Feb. 22, 2017

A 29-year veteran Detroit police officer has been suspended amid allegations that he received and possessed child pornography.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig called the claims outlined in a federal criminal complaint against Miguel Angel Martinez “deeply troubling.”

“Any time a police officer makes a decision to engage in alleged criminal acts, and this one is particularly troubling, certainly it’s a stain on the Detroit Police Department,” Craig told reporters at a press conference this afternoon. “It’s not reflective of the entire organization.”

A sergeant from the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in Reno, Nev., working undercover was using a peer-to-peer file sharing program when he discovered files that appeared to reference child pornography linked to a computer IP address that belonged to Martinez, who lives in Trenton.

Read more:

The sergeant was able to download 14 “incomplete but viewable” files from the IP address between Sept. 5 and Sept. 12, according to the complaint. The videos showed children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, the complaint says.

A review of a law enforcement database indicated that the same IP address has been observed sharing at least 100 files that are of interest to child pornography investigations. And on two dates in January, that IP was observed sharing child pornography, according to the complaint.

Federal investigators searched Martinez’s home Tuesday and seized computer-related items. During an interview, Martinez told investigators he “may have seen” child pornography files, the complaint says.

Craig said Martinez has been suspended with pay. If charges are filed, the status would change to a suspension without pay, he said.

Martinez worked as a patrol officer on the west side of the city. Craig said he’s not aware of any other allegations of wrongdoing against him.

“His deputy chief referred to him as an average officer, nothing stellar that stood out,” Craig said.

It was not immediately clear this afternoon whether Martinez has an attorney.

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2017/02/22/detroit-miguel-martinez-child-porn/98260658/?platform=hootsuite

Cops doing the right thing: Video shows deputies dealing with drunk Washtenaw County lieutenant

This guy is obviously drunk.

Washtenaw County Lt. Brian Filipiakon administrative leave

By Mara MacDonald – Reporter , Derick Hutchinson

Posted: 10:53 PM, December 19, 2016 Updated: 10:04 PM, December 30, 2016

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Video captured two Montmorency County sheriff’s deputies dealing with a Washtenaw County lieutenant who is accused of drunken driving.

Washtenaw County Lt. Brian Filipiak is on an administrative leave as the investigation continues.

Video shows Filipiak repeatedly asking to just be let go, but the Montmorency deputies weren’t having it, and at one point, told him they would use a stun gun on him if he didn’t knock it off.

“Brian, I’m going to have you step out of the car and do some field sobriety tests,” an officer said.

Filipiak was pulled over after deputies said they saw his car weave all over the road.

“Just let me stay here,” Filipiak said.

He pleaded with the deputies to let him sleep it off on the side of the road, repeatedly refusing to budge from his truck.

The deputy told him he had to get out of the truck now, but Filipiak continued to refuse the orders and forced the deputies to pull him from his pickup truck.

You can see the full story in the video posted above.

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/video-shows-deputies-dealing-with-allegedly-drunk-washtenaw-county-lieutenant