Two former Detroit police officers that were in charge with narcotics investigations now face multiple charges for stealing money and other possessions from the drug dealers they were supposed to investigate. The two officers were suspended without pay since October, 2014.
They are also charged with conspiracy, extortion, drug trafficking and robbery, and if they are find guilty they risk up to 20 years behind bars.
According to court papers, Lt. David Hansberry, 34, and Officer Bryan Watson, 46, made traffic stops and illegal arrests to steal money, narcotics and other property from drug dealers.
On April 9, the two former officers were arraigned on a multitude of charges including cocaine possession, complicity to drug trafficking, robbery conspiracy, and extortion.
An accomplice of Hansberry, Kevlin Omar Brown is also charged but only with one count of robbery or extortion. The three police officers were under federal investigation since last year, when James Craig, the Detroit Police chief, disbanded the narcotics unit.
Chief Craig recently said that he was troubled to learn about the allegations against his former police officers because such behavior impacts the public trust in police. He, however, reassured the public that the majority of police officers serving in the Detroit Police Department are honest, hardworking people that honor their badge and the oath to serve and protect the city’s citizens.
Watson and Hansberry allegedly arranged drug sales with several people, but instead of completing the transactions the two officers would extort and rob civilians of drugs, personal property, and money.
The two officers conducted their illegal activities from June through October 2010.
Also, prosecution claims that the two made use of their police officer status to facilitate their crimes as they wore their uniforms and badges, carried firearms and run their police vehicles with activated lights to intimidate drug dealers or gain their trust.
They also identified themselves as Detroit Police officers to pressurize their victims into accepting their business terms or to make them flee and leave behind illegal substances, cash and personal property.
Both officers pleaded not guilty.
On April 9, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub heard the two police officers’ arguments in a preliminary hearing, Brown was also present, but he was arraigned Friday since he had no attorney. He was ordered to stay confined to his home and wear a tether. Hansberry and Watson were ordered not to carry firearms while on bond.
Brown declined to comment while he was leaving the courtroom.
But Detroit Police Department faced a similar case about 11 years ago when eight police officers were accused of planting fake evidence and writing false reports several times to justify the arrests of the prostitutes and drug dealers they were investigating. All eight police officers were acquitted.
Watson’s attorney said that the Fourth Precinct case also outraged the media and public opinion more than 10 years ago, but the scandal died down as the police officers were acquitted of the 104 counts. The attorney thinks that the history repeats itself in this case, too.
Hansberry’s lawyer claimed that his client was innocent and that he would be “vindicated” sooner or later.
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