DETROIT – When Kwame Kilpatrick had his sentence commuted by former President Donald Trump bad memories started emerging for Steve Dolunt, a retired Detroit police assistant chief.
On Tuesday, Dolunt shared the painful period in his life and career during Kilpatrick’s tenure as Detroit mayor.
“They went through hell worrying about me and I didn’t realize it at the time how they were worried about me,” he said.
Dolunt got emotional talking about the incredible stress his family was under that started back in 2003 when his life and career were turned upside down.
Kilpatrick was the reason and when the disgraced mayor was freed in January of 2021, years of emotions were again ripped open for Dolunt’s wife.
“I called home and she was in tears. She was angry and upset. I said what’s the problem? She said, they put you through hell,” added Dolunt.
It started when Dolunt was transferred to the Detroit Police Internal Affairs Department.
He was handed three memos outlining troubling concerns that the officers on Kilpatrick’s security detail were involved in a party with strippers at the Manoogian Mansion.
There were allegations of overtime abuse and having crashed department vehicles fixed under the table. However, there was no mention of Kilpatrick.
“We were investigating the officers on staff. Not him. One thing led to another. Didn’t help that Strawberry (Tamara Greene) the dancer got killed. It kept ballooning and ballooning. Gary Brown, now in charge of the water department, he got screwed. He did. Bottom line,” said Dolunt.
Then deputy police chief, Gary Brown, was fired. Dolunt was then locked out of the investigation he launched.
“The ironic part is, I was internal affairs and I was being locked out of my files and doing my job granted, career wise, terrible. I got demoted, transferred. It was terrible. It really was bad,” he said.
The department transferred Dolunt 12 times in two years.
Jerry Oliver was the Detroit police chief at the time.
“Jerry Oliver said to me, an amoeba has more sense than to investigate the mayor. But I wasn’t investigating the mayor, it was his officers. It got to a level of the mayor’s office,” he said.
There was the murder of Greene. Kilpatrick’s text messages came to light. Then campaign cash scandals and rigged contracts were under investigation.
Dolunt wasn’t a part of any of those investigations. Instead he says his department relentlessly made life miserable for him, even sending him home to get a box to clean out his desk.
“I had to go home. My wife says, what are you doing here? You’re home for lunch? No. She could tell something was wrong. It is hard to tell your family you have been demoted, you didn’t do anything wrong that was really, really hard,” he said.
And the hardest part for Dolunt was he walked out of his office with that box in front of his fellow officers.
He could have ignored it and shoved everything under his desk. Dolunt says the right thing to do was to investigate it as the story got bigger.
“To me the kicker is, Kwame Kilpatrick is one of the most charismatic people I have ever met. He could have been the first Black president and I honestly believe that in my heart. He was that smart. He was that good. Unfortunately, he was also a criminal,” he said.