Southfield police chief defends officers accused of police brutality in pregnant woman’s lawsuit

Crystal White accuses 3 officers of police brutality

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Southfield’s police chief is defending the officers accused of police brutality in a lawsuit filed by a pregnant woman who said three officers assaulted her and caused her to lose her unborn baby.

Southfield police Chief Elvin Barren said this is not a case of police brutality. He said he’s appalled by allegations that his officers would treat a Black resident differently than a White resident or knowingly use a Taser on a pregnant woman.

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Police released dash cam video of the incident, which you can see in the video above.

Officers said they were called Jan. 9 to a residential area because family members of Crystal White, 38, of Southfield, told them she was acting erratically, had mental health issues and was trying to take her 6-year-old daughter from the home.

White is being defended by attorney Geoffrey Fieger.

Fieger said Southfield police used a Taser on White despite knowing she was pregnant. Officers said that’s not the case. They said they had no idea she was pregnant until she told them so in the back of their squad car.

Police said they went to the home knowing there might be a child in danger because White was trying to take her from the home. When they approached White, she charged at them, according to officers.

“When you look at the narrative that was suggested: that we knowingly would Tase a pregnant woman -- that is appalling to me,” Barren said. “It’s a gross negligence and it lends on criminality. It is also alarming to me that it was suggested that this police department would have treated her differently if she was a White woman from an affluent community. We responded because the family asked us to help. The family outlined concerns of mental status, of aggressive behavior and things that were going on inside the location.”

Fieger said his client suffered severe injuries, including broken teeth, and that she ultimately lost her baby because of the Taser use.

Barren denies those allegations.

The officers named in the lawsuit are not on any type of leave. They are continuing to perform their duties as planned, Barren said.

Local 4 expects to hear back from Fieger’s office soon.

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.