68ºF

Dearborn officer found not guilty of groping woman during traffic stop

Justin Smith found not guilty

DEARBORN, Mich. – A Dearborn police officer was found not guilty Wednesday of inappropriately touching a woman during a traffic stop.

Justin Smith was charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct. His jury trial was canceled and it became a bench trial where the judge decided he was not guilty.

“Under the facts of this case that I have seen, I do not find that sufficient evidence has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that this misconduct... was done with any taint of humiliation in sexual contact," the judge said. "It appears as though it was done because the defendant and the complaining witness were friends and had a relationship."

Smith did not follow proper procedure when he pulled the woman over.

The judge said the court was troubled to hear that proper procedures were being broken and that officers within the department pull over friends and family for personal reasons while on duty.

"I do not find that this rises to the level of factual basis sufficient beyond a reasonable cause in that it was done with a corrupt intent," the judge said. "It does appear to me to be a case of somebody who knows somebody and was doing what other officers shouldn't do, but clearly have done."

Smith was accused of touching woman during traffic stop

Smith was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in May 2016. Court testimony revealed that he knew the woman, with whom he is friendly. She worked as a waitress at a local restaurant.

The unidentified woman claimed Smith stopped her car after she left her boyfriend’s house near Cherry Hill and Telegraph roads. She said the contact was unwelcome and entirely unexpected.

"It was an awkward silence, and then he just turned into the car, reached in and touched my (breast) and then went on about his business," the woman said in court.

There is dashcam video of the incident. However, it does not show much. Smith said he only touched the woman's shoulder. 

He was suspended without pay.