Detroit, MI – Long-time Libertarian activist Scotty Boman organized a press conference that two of Southeast Michigan’s major television news stations broadcasted. He sent out a news release on behalf of Detroit Residents Advancing Civilian Oversight (D.R.A.C.O.) in which he announced that two prominent Detroiters would join him in expressing their displeasure about how a Detroit Police Department (DPD) officer handled an unarmed woman at the Detroit Receiving Hospital.Boman, who founded DRACO, was joined by Detroit Police Commissioner Willie E. Burton, and National Action Network (Michigan Chapter) President Reverend Charles Williams II who gathered across from the Detroit Receiving Hospital emergency entrance at 11:00 AM on Tuesday December 18th.
“Officer after officer is saying, ‘This is what any officer would do’…” Boman told reporters in reference to DPD officers speaking during public comments at a Board of Police Commissioners meeting.
A cell phone video surfaced in August that captured Detroit Police Corporal Dwayne Jones repeatedly punching a naked, unarmed woman as other officers restrained her. Shortly after this Police Chief James Craig suspended Jones with pay. On December 3rd the Wayne County prosecutor’s office arraigned Jones on felony misconduct and misdemeanor assault and battery charges.
On Thursday, December 6th The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners voted five to two to return Jones to duty against the advice of Chief Craig who recommended suspension without pay. They took the vote after several Detroit Police officers lined up to praise Corporal Jones’ actions. Commissioner Burton, who was at the press conference, was alone in asking for more time so that the board could make a fully informed decision.
Jones returned to court on December 19th (the day after the press conference) and the pretrial hearing will continue on January 10th.
“We need to invest heavily in training officers when they come in contact with the mentally ill. The police also need to look at what Minneapolis is doing, deploying case workers out on those mental health runs. Minneapolis has the best model. The program worked there it can also work here. ” – Commissioner Willie E. Burton
“Wrong is wrong, this officer’s actions were wrong. We must stand for justice.” proclaimed Reverend Charles Williams II, President of the National Action Network’s Michigan Chapter.
DRACO founder Scotty Boman remarked, “The job of the Board of Police Commissioners is oversight. If a blue wall stands between them and what is right, it is their job to scale that wall. Instead, five commissioners chose to be bricks in that wall.”
In October the Michigan Libertarian reported that Scotty Boman petitioned for a recount of Detroit’s vote to open the charter for revision and challenged the outcome in a formal request that he filed with the attorney general. The attorney general denied the request. The next step in the process would require the assistance of an attorney and none were found who were interested in taking the matter up pro bono.
In November the Michigan Libertarian reported that DRACO held a Detroit Charter Commission candidate forum and sent out questionnaires to candidates for Charter Commission to see if they supported keeping an elected Board of Police Commissioners.
It now looks like the Board of Police Commissioners has a good chance of surviving the Charter revision process. Five of the nine elected candidates (JoAnna Underwood, Nicole Small, Tracy Anne Peters, Carol Elaine Weaver and Laura Ann Hughes) told DRACO they would keep an elected police commission similar to the current one or with some improvements. This is a small majority of commissioners who agree with DRACO’s core mission. One of the elected candidates (Richard Garland Mack Jr.) leaned in favor of an elected commission, and two of them (Barbara Anne Wynder and Quincy L. Jones) gave mixed responses. One of the elected commissioners refused to respond to the questionnaire (Karissa M.W. Holmes).