Detroit cop charged with gun possession while intoxicated

James David Dickson, George Hunter and Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Detroit Police Chief James Craig, left, stands beside Deputy Chief Elvin Barren, right, for a press conference Wednesday.

A Detroit police officer faces charges for his alleged interference in a January car crash, after which police allegedly discovered three guns in his possession at a time when he slurred his speech and smelled of intoxicants, authorities said Wednesday.

The alleged incident took place about 2:35 p.m. on Jan. 14, on the 12900 block of Puritan in Detroit, which is west of Meyers on the city's west side.

The officer, Jerold Blanding showed up at the scene, authorities say, because he knew the victim. At the time, he was on no-gun status in the department, as the department investigated his role in the fatal shooting of Raynard Burton, a 19-year-old Detroit man, almost a year earlier, on Feb. 13, 2017. 

Prosecutors declined to charge Blanding in that incident, deciding he acted in self-defense. 

Officers at the January crash scene spoke with Blanding, and found that his speech was slurred and that he smelled of intoxicants. Police allegedly discovered three handguns in his possession, and say Blanding "resisted and obstructed the police" as they tried to help the crash victim.

On Wednesday, Blanding was charged in the January incident, including three counts of firearm possession while under the influence, eight counts of resisting and obstructing the police, and six counts of felony firearm.

“It’s always troubling when a member of the department gets charged in this manner," Detroit Police Chief James Craig said during a press conference Wednesday. "His behavior is certainly not reflective of the men and women who serve every day.”

After the accident, the officer was on restricted duty in a nonenforcement capacity, Craig said. 

“We felt he needed more time from the shooting incident,” Craig said. “In every officer-involved shooting, officers go through an evaluation with a doctor and with us and there are times where we feel the person is not ready to go back to work. For that reason, we put him on restrictive duty.”

Blanding stood mute during a brief arraignment at 36th District Court, and his attorney Matthew Forest waived a formal reading of the charges. Magistrate Dawn White entered a not-guilty plea in Blanding’s behalf.

Forest asked the court for leniency in setting bond. “He’s been a Detroit police officer for 24 years … and he lives with his elderly father,” Forest said. “He’s not a flight risk.”

Assistant Wayne County prosecutor Molly Kettler requested bond conditions dictating that Blanding refrain from drinking alcohol and possessing firearms. White agreed to impose those conditions, and set bond at $50,000.

A probable cause hearing is set for April 18, with a preliminary examination scheduled for April 23.

Blanding and his attorney left the courthouse without comment.