Detroit officer charged in alleged assault, unlawful arrest caught on camera at gas station

Men say officers used excessive force to make unlawful arrest

The Wayne County Prosecutor is considering charges against a Detroit police officer who was caught on video in May making a rough arrest at a gas station. (WDIV)
The Wayne County Prosecutor is considering charges against a Detroit police officer who was caught on video in May making a rough arrest at a gas station. (WDIV)

DETROIT – A Detroit police officer is facing several charges in connection with an alleged assault and unlawful arrest of two men at a gas station on the city's west side.

Officer Richard Billingslea was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, aggravated assault, obstruction of justice, and assault and battery.

A federal lawsuit was filed against the city of Detroit and two police officers in connection to a violent arrest that took place in May which was captured on video.

Officers Richard Billingslea and Hakeem Patterson, of the Detroit police 5th Precinct, and the city of Detroit are named as defendants in the suit, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury. 

Detroit residents D’Marco Craft and Michaele Jackson claim the officers were caught on camera assaulting and unlawfully arresting Jackson when they went to a gas station on Harper Avenue to buy cigarettes on May 31. The video, shot by Craft, shows officers throw Jackson to the ground as he is verbally abused. The officers appear to be making an arrest, but Jackson is released and they let him off the ground. 

Jackson left the gas station and the officers followed him out to the gas pumps. Craft continued to record as Jackson circled the gas pumps and officers followed.

Jackson entered the gas station again. The video doesn’t show what happened initially, but it captured the officer breaking out his Mace. After Jackson was Maced, officers can be seen in the video kicking and punching him.

Watch the video here:

The lawsuit accuses the officers of:

  • Use of excessive force
  • Unlawful arrest
  • Unlawful seizure (against only Billingslea)
  • Unlawful search (against only Billingslea)
  • Unlawfully preventing a person from recording police in a public place
  • Conversion of plaintiff's cellphone
  • Assault and battery
  • Violation of civil rights (against the city of Detroit)

Officer's report indicates force needed to make arrest

The police report written by Billingslea indicates that he was attempting to place Jackson under arrest, but was unable to without the use of force.

Jackson was arrested while Craft was released at the scene. Jackson was not released from custody until June 2. He spent 63 hours in custody. Neither man was ever charged with a crime. 

The suit also claims Billingslea took Craft's cellphone and slammed it on the gas station counter top, smashing the screen. Furthermore, the officer also threw the cellphone in a garbage container at the gas station, according to the lawsuit. A different police officer later retrieved the phone and placed it into evidence. Craft later retrieved the cellphone from police. 

Craft and Jackson are being represented by Southfield-based attorneys Solomon M. Radner and Ari Kresch. 

“The police report is clearly a fabrication and is in direct conflict with the footage from Mr. Craft’s cell phone. It’s outrageous that the officers who are supposed to protect the rights of their citizens behave in such an unwarranted, aggressive and cruel manner,” Radner said in a news release. 

The news release from Radner and Kresch also alleges Billingslea and Patterson violated the Detroit Police Department's policy on pursuing suspects back in 2015. The officers allegedly were chasing a man who crashed June 24, 2015 and killed two young children

Detroit police chief offers comment

Detroit Police James Craig held a news conference Thursday to discuss the video. Craig said the man threw a punch before he was Maced and that it was captured on store surveillance. The chief said the store surveillance video will not be released due to a pending criminal investigation.

"Force is only used to overcome resistance," Craig said. "In a perfect scenario, we would want to be able to take someone into custody without using any force."

READ: Chief Craig addresses video showing officers making violent arrest

Officer on restricted duty; prosecutor considers charges

The officer is on restricted duty as the Wayne County prosecutor considers handing down charges.

Here is the full lawsuit filed Aug. 22, 2017:

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