DETROIT – Six Detroit police officers are under investigation for misconduct after an incident at the scene of a reported break-in, officials confirmed.
The orders from one officer are the core of the police probe. Why would police want someone they questioned to deliberately run from them? Officials said it was just poor judgment, but a complaint filed with the Detroit Police Department insists it was a way to humiliate black contractors.
Members of a renovation and cleaning crew said they were working in Detroit this weekend, and police met them at the front door when they returned from a lunch break.
"The cops pulled up," Antone Clark said.
Detroit police responded to a report of a possible breaking-and-entering incident. The two responding officers requested work papers.
"He couldn't provide paperwork for the location," Assistant Chief Arnold Williams said.
The contractors said the papers were inside.
"We tried to show the cop, but the cop wasn't trying to hear it at all," Clark said.
Officers ran all five workers' names and licenses. After 20 minutes went by, a total of six officers were at the rental house on Ohio Street.
The workers had no warrants, but instead of leaving, one of the officers allegedly made a request.
"He got to telling people to just run," Justin Green said. "I said, 'What do you mean, run?' He said, 'Run or you're going to jail.'"
One by one, the workers followed orders.
"I'm wondering, 'Why do I have to run? I did nothing wrong. Didn't break into a house. Why am I running?'" Clark said.
"Humiliated," Antoine Nalls said. "Like we were just hoodlums."
"There's absolutely no reason" for that type of behavior from police, according to Williams.
The Office of Chief Investigators within the police commission opened a probe into the officer.
"It's inappropriate behavior, and it's something we don't condone," Williams said.
There were also five other officers at the scene who are under investigation for doing nothing about the situation. Officially, they're being investigated for "conduct unbecoming of an officer."
"They just sat there and looked at us," Nalls said.
"They did nothing," Williams said. "They did not (ask why the people were running)."
"They were stereotyped," Dan Villarreal said. "They were judged for how they look."
The general contractor filed a grievance for his workers and believes the officer's action warrants one.
"Race was a key factor," Villarreal said. "If I had three or five white guys here, this wouldn't have even happened."
"This is something that we don't take lightly," Williams said. "We believe that all citizens should be treated with respect."
Police said the officer who told the men to run was black. They said of the six officers, two were white and the other four were black.
All six officers were wearing body cameras, and Williams said he reviewed two of them that showed the exchange.
The investigation could take several weeks to wrap up, police said. They don't believe there was any criminal wrongdoing, but it was a violation of police policy.