Hearing delayed for councilman accused of handcuffing woman

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published March 5, 2021


WARREN/EASTPOINTE — A Warren city councilman facing misdemeanor charges after he allegedly handcuffed a counterdemonstrator who reportedly put “Black Lives Matter” stickers on a Donald Trump political sign at a rally in Eastpointe last fall is requesting a trial by jury.

Councilman Eddie Kabacinski’s hearing before Judge Kathleen Galen in Eastpointe’s 38th District Court on March 2 was adjourned. According to court records, a final pretrial hearing was set for 1 p.m. on April 20.

Jury trials have been suspended at courts across Michigan due to the coronavirus. According to the court’s website, the 38th District Court remained closed to the public on March 2, with criminal hearings being conducted for in-custody defendants only. All other matters were being handled via Zoom video conferencing only.

A date for a jury trial could be set at Kabacinski’s next hearing, pending updated guidance from health officials and the office of the State Court Administrator.

Neither Kabacinski nor this attorney, Stephen Rabaut, have responded to requests for comment on the charges.

Kabacinski, 47, was elected in 2019 to a four-year term representing District 5 on the Warren City Council.

On Oct. 29, he wore a U.S. Army uniform and a military police armband as he was arraigned on charges of impersonating a public officer, a one-year misdemeanor, and assault and battery, a 93-day misdemeanor.

The charges stem from an incident at Kelly and Stephens roads on Oct. 14.

According to a police report that includes statements from both Kabacinski and the victim, Kabacinski “took the female into custody” after she approached a group rallying in support of Trump and placed three Black Lives Matters stickers onto three Trump signs on display.

St. Clair Shores police were dispatched to the scene on a mutual aid response and took a report.

In Kabacinski’s statement to police, he said the woman produced a canister that resembled a chemical irritant. It was actually “silly string,” according to the woman’s statement.

“After advising the female that she just defaced political signs — a criminal offense — I took the female into custody. The female attempted to flee the scene once in handcuffs,” Kabacinski wrote in his statement.

Eastpointe police later investigated.

During the arraignment, an Eastpointe detective told the judge Kabacinski “used a pressure point tactic” on the victim’s hand and “then physically placed her in handcuffs.” The woman reportedly remained in handcuffs as Kabacinski sat next to her until police arrived.

The detective told the judge the victim and another witness questioned Kabacinski “about being the real police,” after which Kabacinski allegedly “removed his wallet from his back pocket and flashed a badge to them and then put the wallet back in his pocket.”

Kabacinski previously said he worked for the Inkster Police Department and was a military police officer in the U.S. Army.

Prior to the Eastpointe incident, Kabacinski drew criticism from his constituents after he stood with a group of counterdemonstrators who he later said turned out to support law enforcement during a September “March Against Racism” in Warren.  The march was organized by the South Warren Alliance for Radical Movement and Detroit Will Breathe after a series of incidents that targeted a local Black family.

SWARM openly called for Kabacinski’s resignation or removal, and one of its members filed a recall petition that failed to meet the approval of the Macomb County Election Commission.

Recall effort
However, a recall petition filed by former Warren City Councilman Robert Boccomino with the backing of the Southeast Michigan Chamber of Commerce and its CEO John Johnson was approved by the panel in January. According to the language submitted, Kabacinski was targeted for recall because he failed to support a blanket settlement to a costly chain of litigation brought by companies seeking medical marijuana dispensary licenses in Warren.

While Kabacinski cast one of five votes against the settlement, Johnson said he is in the “weakest” position politically and would be the easiest to “pick off.” He said the chamber was already looking at potential candidates to run for the District 5 seat should Kabacinski be removed and that they’d like to find someone who would be a third vote in favor of putting the city’s legal odyssey with marijuana dispensary operators in the rearview mirror.

He cited the loss of millions of dollars in investments, up to 1,000 well-paying jobs and additional revenue streams as a result of the delay in bringing the cannabis industry to Macomb County’s largest city.  

Johnson said on March 4 that the group was in the process of compiling a list of eligible voters who could sign the petition in District 5, which covers south Warren between Ryan and Hoover roads and a portion of central Warren that extends north of Martin Road between Hoover and Van Dyke Avenue. Almost 2,000 signatures would be required to get the recall question on the ballot for the next city election. For the August primary, the deadline to collect signatures would be April 27.

At a hearing on Jan. 8, Kabacinski addressed the members of the Macomb County Election Commission: Macomb County Treasurer Larry Rocca, Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini and Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. Kabacinski likened cannabis companies seeking to do business in Warren to “drug cartels,” claimed he’d been threatened after his vote and said supporting the proliferation of the state-legal marijuana industry in Warren would be a violation of his oath of office and federal drug laws.     
“I cannot think of any elected official worth his salt that would stand up and say the narcotics industry is good for our economy,” Kabacinski said in January.