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Suspect back in custody over Detroit police threats

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — Police Chief James Craig blasted a Wayne County assistant prosecutor for “substandard” work after the office initially declined to sign an arrest warrant this weekend, resulting in the brief release of a Detroit man suspected of spray-painting a threat against Craig and “all cops.” .

After a day-long delay, the warrant was signed Monday for charges against Stuart Horatio Lewis, 49, who was again in police custody, according to authorities.

Lewis was first arrested around 9 p.m. Friday in connection with the threatening graffiti, after the words “kill all cops” and “kill James Craig” were discovered scrawled on a building’s wall near Exeter and West State Fair. The owner of the building has since painted over the graffiti.

Police investigators spent from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the prosecutor’s office submitting their warrant request for a felony charge of making a terroristic threat, Craig said Monday at a news conference.

“It’s one thing (for prosecutors) to request additional evidence to support a probable cause, but that was not the case. This was more (like) verifying that the investigators actually had the evidence in their custody.”

Craig declined to specify what type of evidence the prosecutor sought to verify. He added investigators have other evidence besides the graffiti.

“But if the detective says that they have (a piece of evidence), and you don’t believe that they have the evidence, that’s a problem with me,” Craig said.

With the warrant adjourned, Lewis was set free.

“The message (from the prosecutor) is we do not trust you,” Craig said. “I have not seen this type of scrutiny before.”

Craig said he learned Sunday from WJBK-TV (Channel 2) that Lewis had been released after the suspect himself informed the TV station.

The police chief immediately called Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy for an update.

“She was very supportive and, in fact, gave me some assurances that first in (Monday) morning, the matter would be addressed,” Craig said.

Craig said the warrant was signed by the same prosecutor who declined to do so Sunday.

Lewis was charged Monday with threat of terrorism, possession with intent to deliver marijuana and malicious destruction of a building. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the terrorism threat charge. He was to be arraigned Monday afternoon in 36th District Court.

Craig repeatedly criticized the unnamed assistant prosecutor for what he called “substandard” work in adjourning the warrant Sunday.

“I wonder, if it hadn’t been for my call (to Worthy) where this case would have been,” he said. “And that’s troubling.”

Worthy declined to comment on Craig’s statements.

Lewis initially was arrested Friday after officers forced their way into a home, Craig said. Responders also shot and killed the man’s dog, which “approached in an aggressive manner to officers.”

The case jumped far beyond First Amendment free speech and into the realm of a crime, Craig said.

“Certainly, this was not vague. It was clear as to the intent of the suspect,” he said. “When you threaten to kill an officer, it’s serious ... and it is a threat against all of us.”

HFournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

Twitter: @HollyPFournier