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St. Clair Shores, Detroit

July 29, 2013

Shores officer facing allegations from Detroit police

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

DETROIT — A 17-year veteran of the St. Clair Shores Police Department, together with a Detroit Police sergeant, is facing accusations he was involved in an armed robbery on French Road.

According to the Detroit Police Department, a Detroit police sergeant was arrested on the job July 27 in connection with an armed robbery near I-94 and French Road. The same day, a 17-year veteran of the St. Clair Shores Police Department was also arrested.

In a press conference the afternoon of July 29, Detroit Police Chief James Craig gave more information about the case, although he could not release the identities of the two men — both identified as sergeants in their respective departments — because they have not been charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

That office released a statement saying it received warrant requests for both men but that charging decisions were not expected that day.

The allegations stem from an incident around 4:45 p.m. July 21 at a gas station in the 5600 block of French Road. The two men allegedly got out of an unmarked vehicle, wearing plain-duty clothes with their department-issued badges around their neck and then searched the two victims. An undisclosed amount of money was taken from one victim and a cell phone and a wallet were taken from the second victim.

Craig said the department received photos from a witness on July 26, and that is when someone in the department recognized one of the suspects as a member of the Detroit Police Department. When the matter was turned over to Internal Affairs, both the Detroit Police sergeant and the St. Clair Shores Police sergeant were identified by the victims in a photographic lineup.

But he said there is no evidence to suggest the pair was connected to any other recent police impersonation cases.

Detroit Police Commander Brian Stair of the department’s Internal Affairs office said the two sergeants went through the Detroit Police Academy together two decades ago. One officer stayed with the department and the other left after two years on the Detroit Police force for St. Clair Shores Police.

He said the victims were both in their 20s and, although one victim was allegedly struck with a handgun, he did not suffer any serious injury.

St. Clair Shores Police Chief Michael Walleman said July 29 that the officer turned himself into Walleman late July 27.

“We were notified about this late Saturday and the officer in question was very cooperative and came in when asked to and everything went as smoothly as possible … for a circumstance such as this,” Walleman said. “We’re very distressed of this to come to light. It’s a serious allegation.”

Walleman said the St. Clair Shores Police Department was also waiting for more details of the allegations.

“We’re not privy to this investigation simply because it’s a Detroit Police Department investigation,” he said. “We’re not sure what kind of charges will be coming forth, if any.

“If I’ve learned anything as a police officer over the years, it’s to never jump to conclusions.”

Craig said July 29 that his sergeant was still in custody. Acting St. Clair Shores City Manager Mike Smith said the St. Clair Shores sergeant was released from custody that day and had been suspended without pay pending the investigation. The Detroit cop has also been suspended from his department.

“The Detroit Police Department has been very professional in this whole ordeal,” Walleman said.

(Note: This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. July 30).

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.