Appling attorney: Same officers arrested ex-MSU star

James David Dickson, and Oralandar Brand-Williams

Keith Appling, the former Michigan State and Detroit Pershing basketball star, was arrested for the third time this year after police say he fled following a traffic stop and was carrying a gun Sunday night on Detroit’s east side.

Appling was driving a blue 2013 Dodge Challenger at about 9:10 p.m. when officers from the Detroit Police Department’s tactical response unit allegedly spotted the Challenger make a traffic violation in the area of Russell at East Seven Mile, according to a statement from the Detroit Police Department.

When officers made contact with Appling, they allegedly noticed “a strong odor of marijuana” coming from the car and requested his driver’s license.

But when the officer reached inside the Challenger to get the license, Appling allegedly rolled up the window and drove off. The officer was able to free himself from the car before it pulled away, and was not dragged or hurt, according to the statement.

Officers pursued Appling’s vehicle to Orleans and East State Fair, the statement said, “and took Appling into custody without incident.”

At that point, an officer involved in the initial stop noticed that a Gucci bag in the back seat of the Challenger was no longer there. Police said officers backtracked the route Appling drove and found the bag, which contained paperwork with Appling’s name on it, along with a blue steel semi-automatic Beretta with 10 live rounds inside, on the side of the road.

Appling was arrested for fleeing and eluding and for carrying a concealed weapon, said Sgt. Michael Woody of the Detroit Police Department. The suspected marijuana was never recovered.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, in a statement, said that it would not receive a warrant request on Monday.

Appling’s attorney, Cyril Hall, said Appling contends the police stop was over tinted windows in his vehicle. Appling drove away from police, said Hall, to get to a “safe” location for the police stop. Hall said Appling did not speed and drove away from the police because the two Detroit police officers were hollering.

“He (was) afraid .... of reprisal from the officers,” said Hall Monday. “They were hollering and screaming at him.”

Hall said he finds it “peculiar” that the two officers where the same ones who stopped Appling in June in the same general area on Detroit’s east side. Hall said the officers know Appling’s car from the previous stop.

Officer Jennifer Moreno, a spokesperson with the Detroit Police Department, declined to confirm the identities of the officers involved.

“There were a lot of shootings in Detroit this weekend. (Appling) hadn’t been seen in a drug house. The same officers decide to stop him,” Hall said. “They were working routine patrol. How had (Appling) been a priority. It’s peculiar to me with thousands of officers (in the department). How is it that they stopped him? For something as minute as tinted windows?”

Appling, Hall said, “doesn’t contend he had a weapon.”

On May 1, Dearborn police responded to a call at The Pantheion Club on the 12900 block of Michigan. Security officers allegedly observed a man pulling a gun out of the trunk of a car in the parking lot. Police arrived and allegedly saw Appling, 24, in the driver’s seat of the car security had described.

After a search, police said they found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a small amount of what they believe to be marijuana, and a loaded weapon in the trunk.

“It’s clear the police were looking for someone else other than him,” Hall said at the time. “He was minding his own business and engaged in lawful activity and the next thing here comes 12 police cars (approaching Appling). He hadn’t been in any altercation.”

Police were looking for a black Dodge Charger, Hall said, when they approached Appling, who was in a blue Dodge Challenger outside the club where he had dinner around 7 p.m.

Then on June 18, Detroit police arrested Appling after officers stopped a fast-driving Dodge Charger at Hanna and East Seven Mile. Woody said officers saw Appling, a passenger, place a weapon under a seat.

Hall said after Appling’s arraignment on that case that Appling was the passenger in the car and that Appling's cousin was the driver.

After an officer learned there was a gun in the car, the officer allegedly found a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson under the passenger seat. Hall said the gun doesn't belong to Appling, but rather to a previous passenger of the vehicle.

Appling played at Michigan State from 2010-14, starting 132 games for the Spartans. He averaged 11.2 points and 4.5 assists as a senior. He played five games last season for the NBA’s Orlando Magic, spending most of the season with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA D-League.

Appling’s agent, Ronald Shade, had not heard about Appling’s latest brush with the law when contacted Monday by The News. He said he would comment on it once he has spoken with Appling’s mother.