DETROIT - The Detroit police officer charged with committing robberies across Wayne County will be back in court Thursday for his preliminary exam.
It is alleged that from May 2012 through March 2013, Clifton Whatley organized and orchestrated a series of robberies throughout the County, including in Taylor, Westland, Canton, Harper Woods and Melvindale.
Whatley is accused of using his background as an officer and his family members to pull off the crimes.
In May 2012, Layman Armstrong, A Detroit resident and longtime friend of Whatley, is alleged to have robbed a Check and Go located in the 9100 block of Telegraph in Taylor.
Sources said investigators found a gun, cash and bank bags in Whatley's home and that photos of the targeted businesses were on his phone.
Whatley is charged with three counts of armed robbery, two counts of bank robbery, one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, three counts of unlawful imprisonment and felony firearm.
He's been a police officer since 2000 and was most recently assigned to the Detroit Police Department's Central District office.
He was given a $1 million cash bail. He pleaded with the judge that he needed to be at home with his kids.
"I've never been arrested. I just came home from work yesterday and was arrested on this," he said.
Two members of his own alleged robbery crew were caught in Westland and named Whatley as the getaway driver. They also said Whatley provided the gun used in the armed robbery.
Whatley's niece claims he told her to let him rob her at a check cashing business, but she refused. The business was eventually robbed anyways, and Whatley's niece recognized Whatley's best friend as one of the robbers.
"He recruited, trained, and provided direct instructions to his nephew in connection to planning and carrying out a multitude of armed robberies," said Robert Miller, assistant Wayne County prosecutor.
Whatley also moonlights out of town as a bodyguard for rapper Rick Ross. He denies his roll in any of the crimes.
"All of this is allegation. I have never committed a crime in my life," said Whatley.
Whatley has been suspended from the Detroit Police Department and now faces life in prison if convicted.
Armstrong is charged with armed robbery, bank robbery and felony firearm. His arraignment is scheduled for April 8.
Statement from Detroit Police Chief Chester Logan:
"We are committed to ensuring that the members of the Detroit Police Department conduct themselves in a manner that is worthy of the public's trust. To that end all allegations of police misconduct that occurs within our jurisdiction will be thoroughly and impartially investigated and my department will assist and cooperate with all outside jurisdictions."
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