Pubdate: Thu, 07 Aug 2014
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2014 The Detroit News
Author: George Hunter
Page: 6A


6 Suspended After Evidence Taken in Raid Not Logged

Detroit - Six members of a Detroit police narcotics unit that raided 
a suspected drug house have been suspended after a surveillance video 
captured them taking away a box they never logged as evidence.

The investigation is part of a larger Internal Affairs probe into the 
now-disbanded Narcotics Section, which was retooled last month after 
allegations surfaced claiming major problems in the unit.

One sergeant and five officers have been suspended with pay while 
Internal Affairs investigators try to determine what was inside the 
box taken from the raid, said Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

"At this point it's just an allegation," Craig said. "The video is 
part of our investigation."

The raid happened in February at a house on the city's west side, 
although Craig said the incident came to his attention a few weeks 
ago. "When we found out, we immediately ordered an Internal Affairs 
investigation," he said. "We added it to our overall investigation 
into the Narcotics Section, which is ongoing."

The owner of the raided house said it was a medical marijuana 
dispensary. "That's what he claimed, although we haven't determined 
that for sure," Craig said.

Dozens of marijuana dispensaries opened across the state after voters 
passed the Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, but the Michigan Court of 
Appeals later ruled they were illegal. Detroit police have raided 
several dispensaries in recent years.

One of the rooms at the west side house was equipped with a video 
camera, which captured officers taking away a box. Whatever was 
inside the box was never added to the search warrant return, Craig said.

Internal Affairs began investigating the Narcotics Section in May, 
after allegations of several problems came to Craig's attention. The 
alleged wrongdoing included a sergeant who had failed to turn in 32 
pieces of drug evidence confiscated from hospitalized suspects, and 
another sergeant who falsified evidence tags for items seized during 
drug raids, including three flat-screen TVs, a laptop computer and an 
Xbox 360 video game system.

Lt. Charles Flanagan, who headed the narcotics unit at the time, 
reported the sergeants, who took the drugs and other items in 2011 
before he assumed command of the unit.

Days after the investigation was launched, Flanagan, who is white, 
filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity 
Commission, claiming he was the victim of racial discrimination and 
subjected to a hostile work environment for reporting what he 
allegedly had uncovered.

Deputy Chief Daryl Brown, who ran the Narcotics Section when the 
alleged violations occurred in 2011, recommended Flanagan be 
transferred from the unit, although Craig said he told Flanagan he 
wasn't going to act on the recommendation. Brown, who is 
African-American, is currently in charge of the Criminal 
Investigations Bureau, which oversees Narcotics.

Craig has ordered several shakeups. The first came in early June when 
he overhauled the Organized Crime Section, which is responsible for 
the Narcotics Section.

Last month, Craig disbanded the Narcotics Section, which was replaced 
by the Major Violators Section. The new unit investigates only 
large-scale drug dealers, while street-level cases are handled by the 
precincts. About 50 former narcotics officers were sent to precincts 
citywide, leaving 23 officers in the new unit.

Flanagan, who is now head of the department's Vice Squad, feels the 
shakeup was a way to get him out of the drug unit, said his lawyer, 
Mike Rataj - a claim Craig has disputed.
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