Detroit police commander charged with drunken driving retires

George Hunter
The Detroit News

A former Detroit police commander who was charged last week with drunken driving retired Tuesday after 20 years on the force.

Detroit Police officer Johnny Thomas, commander of the Third Precinct, is arraigned by video feed on a misdemeanor drunken driving charge Wednesday, January 30, 2019. He was arrested early Saturday morning by officers from his own precinct.

Former Cmdr. Johnny Thomas, commander of the Third Precinct, was arraigned last week on charges of operating while impaired/operating with a high blood-alcohol content above .17, a 180-day misdemeanor, after he allegedly drove a department vehicle into a truck that was parked at a stoplight, and causing a three-vehicle crash.

The veteran cop, who once ran the department's Professional Standards, or internal affairs, section, told police officials Tuesday he was retiring, Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said.

Thomas reportedly had a blood-alcohol content of .18 at the crash scene — more than twice the legal limit and considered "super drunk" in Michigan — when he was pulled over by officers from his own precinct Saturday morning after allegedly causing the accident.

Thomas, who is scheduled to appear in 36th District Court for a hearing Wednesday, also was charged with possession of a firearm while under the influence, a 93-day misdemeanor. 

Thomas allegedly hit a truck driven by a 48-year-old man, causing it to hit a third car that left the scene before police officers arrived. The truck driver was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital for treatment of minor injuries and released hours later, police said.

During Thomas' arraignment, his attorney Charles Longstreet II entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. 36th District Court Magistrate Laura Echartea granted a $5,000, 10 percent bond.

Longstreet was in court Tuesday, and unavailable for comment, said a woman who answered the phone at his law firm.
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