Detroit police say trucking company responsible for demolition of house meant for needy family

Owner of Gipson Brother's Trucking facing charges

By Paula Tutman - Reporter, Amber Ainsworth

DETROIT - A prescription bottle left at the scene of a demolished house in Detroit led police to the company responsible for tearing down the home meant for a needy family.

Police say Gipson Brother's Trucking, a Detroit company that also does demolitions, tore down the house that Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo was rehabbing.

The company's owner, Sherman Gipson, is charged with malicious destruction of property worth more than $20,000 for tearing down the house.

According to Gay-Dagnogo, a fire damaged the home over the summer. She was considering having the home torn down, so she put out bids to vet demolition. Gipson's bid was $7,000, an offer Gay-Dagnogo acknowledged through an email, but never gave the company permission to demolish the house.

Police say if Gay-Dagnogo would have initially disclosed she was considering demolition, the investigation would have concluded quicker.

Gay-Dagnogo disputes that claim.

Gay-Dagnogo previously sent the following letter to Council President Jones:

"Greetings Council President Jones,

Thank you and the members of your staff for your concern regarding our property.  It is with great sadness and disappointment that I write this communication of inquiry of 14567 Minock, Detroit, MI 48223,  On Thursday, September 26, 2019, As you may recall, our organization has been working on projects to remove blight annually during our annual Detroit Birthday Celebration.  This year made 5 years.  While our prior projects consisted primarily of debris removal, landscaping and board ups, this year our goal was to fully rehab the aforementioned property to gift to a family in need.

I learned that our property had been demolished via a text from a community organization on Thursday, September 26, 2019. I stopped by that evening following an NAACP meeting where I provided a legislative update, to get a view in the dark.  I returned the following day with Paula Tutman from WDIV, and I truly couldn't believe my eyes!

Our property had sustained damage in the summer from the city's property located at 14561 Minock, which caught  fire mid June. That property was subsequently demolished according to DPD on July 12th.  Following a June 9th BS&E Dangerous Buildings hearing, we had our property boarded to ensure no access until we were able to finalize the claims process. The claims process to a little longer than we anticipated; however, we maintained boarding until we were given clearance and the ability to determine when or if we could restart rehab.

While our  insurance company indicated that it was not a total lost, not knowing the anticipated cost or repair, I reached out to a few contractors to provide a quote for repair or demolition to determine if cost efficiency. Unfortunately, that decision was made for us with the premature and unauthorized demolition of our property, and without notice I might add.

I have spoken to Mayor Duggan who has committed to fully investigating the demolition, and making this right.  However, I am also asking members of your honorable body to assist with determining which company would have been able to demolish a property without the owner's permission, without out clearance from utility companies i.e. DTE, DWSD, as I am concerned after sharing my story that this may not be an isolated incidence. This raise a number of questions and concerns related to process and protocols that exist within the city's B&SE department and your approved list of contractors.  Additionally, how many incidents have a occurred of this nature, and how property owners were made whole.

Our organization had insurance, to address the fire damages. However, that does nothing to address the total loss of our project. Your assistance will be greatly appreciated in uncovering this mystery. I look forward to having an opportunity to speak to this issue during your Council Meeting, Tuesday, October 1st, 10 a.m.

Respectfully Yours,

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, M.Ed."


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