A Detroit woman said she and her family were terrorized by suburban police officers during an Aug. 12 raid, but law enforcement officials insist they acted properly while hunting a dangerous criminal.
Mary Smith said officers from Hazel Park and Madison Heights showed up on her block of Curtis driving “tanks.” She said the officers entered her west-side house, cursed at her, used a racial slur, then handcuffed her and other relatives on the front lawn.
“I ran out the door with my hands up,” said Smith, 56. “They threw me on the ground and pig-tied me. My mind went blank. I said ‘I have a 3-year-old grandson in the bed; I don’t want him waking up and you shooting him.’ They said ‘(expletive) that (expletive).’”
Smith said Detroit mayoral candidate Coleman Young II showed up and talked the officers into removing her handcuffs, a claim echoed by Young’s campaign manager.
Police tell a different story.
Hazel Park police Lt. Brian Buchholz said officers were professional when they executed a search warrant looking for Smith’s son, Michael Green, 33, who allegedly shot a man earlier in the day.
“Southeast Oakland County SWAT executed the search warrant for us,” Buchholz said. “I was there; everyone acted professionally, and in our opinion everything went according to plan. No one was hurt.”
Green was arrested at the house without incident, Buchholz said.
Buchholz acknowledged Smith and other family members were detained and handcuffed, which he said is standard protocol during some raids.
“We deny the allegations of any improper use of force or improper language,” Buchholz said. He added the SWAT team used an armored vehicle in the raid — also standard procedure, he said.
Green was arrested and charged with assault with intent to commit murder. He is being held in the Oakland County Jail in lieu of $2 million bond, Buchholz said.
“Earlier on the 12th, he entered a home in Hazel Park and shot a man,” Buchholz said. “(The victim) is out of the hospital. Luckily, (Green) didn’t hit any vital organs.”
While Smith was being detained, she said she asked neighbors to report the incident to Mayor Mike Duggan or Detroit police. Instead, she said, Young showed up.
“If it wasn’t for Coleman Young Jr., we’d still be out there handcuffed,” Smith said. “Apparently one of the neighbors called him. I was expecting to see Mike Duggan, since he’s my mayor. But Coleman Young Jr. came.
“He said (to the police): ‘Can I ask you a question: Did you go to Detroit police and ask them to assist you?’ They said no. He said ‘then wrap your (expletive) up and go back across Eight Mile and let my people go.’”
Detroit Officer Nicole Kirkwood said the suburban police did alert the Detroit department before the raid.
Detroit police Chief James Craig added his department has not received any complaints about the alleged incident.
“If there’s an allegation of criminality by another police department that happens in Detroit, we will investigate it,” Craig said. “But we haven’t heard anything about this.”
Young’s campaign manager, Adolph Mongo, said Young happened to be in the neighborhood.
“It just so happened Coleman Young was knocking on doors,” Mongo said Wednesday. “He was out there campaigning, and he saw it.”
Buchholz said he never saw Young at the scene, and said he hadn’t heard from other officers the candidate was there, a claim Mongo called “a lie.”
Mongo issued a press release Wednesday accusing the suburban officers of engaging in “Gestapo-like tactics,” and said Young will hold a press conference Thursday in front of Smith’s house.
The release also said the suburban officers “were not accompanied by the Detroit Police Department as protocol requires.”
Kirkwood said the information in the release is wrong.
“We’re not required to accompany suburban officers when they execute a search warrant in Detroit,” she said. “They just need to let us know they plan to do it, which they did.”
When informed there’s no requirement for Detroit cops to accompany their suburban counterparts on raids in the city, Mongo said the rule should be changed.
“When you have suburban cops coming in and manhandling Detroit residents, and they just think they can do anything to black folks here in Detroit, that’s a problem,” he said.
“It’s an invading army,” Mongo said. “Nobody’s condoning folks doing wrong; if you got a warrant, you got a warrant. But they should do it right.”
Mongo’s press release contained a statement from Young:
“They don’t respect Detroit residents — especially those who look like me ... and they don’t respect the Detroit police,” Young said. “They come in and they use gestapo-like tactics on an innocent grandmother and there’s no concern from City Hall about how residents are being treated? That has to change.”
Duggan’s spokesman John Roach declined to comment.