One shot at Kent County high school, sheriff says

Off-duty cop who pulled gun banned from firearms

George Hunter
The Detroit News

An off-duty Detroit police officer has been arraigned on charges after he allegedly tussled with his girlfriend downtown Sunday and pulled out his gun when citizens tried to help the woman, police said.

Officer Willie Fortner, 25, was arraigned Monday on two counts of felonious assault, two counts of felony firearm and domestic violence.

At the arraignment Monday, a 36th District Court judge ordered Fortner held on a $15,000 bond. She also ordered him to not have any contact with the victim and banned him from having any firearms.

Fortner's next court appearance is scheduled for next week Monday.

Detroit police internal affairs investigators are looking into the alleged infraction by the officer, who has been on the force two years and works at the 5th Precinct.

In addition to the internal probe, police have launched a criminal investigation into the allegations.

A felonious assault charge is punishable by up to four years in prison.

Fortner and his 22-year-old girlfriend were arguing inside a nightclub near Fort and Beaubien at about 2 a.m. Sunday, police said. The squabble continued after they exited the club, and the officer tried to force the woman into his car.

When two men saw the struggle and attempted to intervene, the officer allegedly opened his trunk and produced his gun, according to police. Prosecutors said Fortner pointed his gun at the men, who ran for cover.

“At this point, we’re not sure if the officer was under the influence of alcohol or not,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said on Sunday, prior to the charges being announced. “There’s an allegation he may have pointed his gun at the men who tried to help.”

Internal affairs investigators were poring through surveillance video to get a clearer idea of what happened, Craig said.

“It’s a bad situation, but I applaud the captain on the scene who did all the right things,” Craig said. “He handled it like any other crime, secured witnesses and made the appropriate notification so we could do a thorough investigation.”

Kenneth Reed, spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said the incident appears to be a domestic violence issue, prompting him to call for more training.

“I think there needs to be more training in terms of de-escalation, training these officers in term of how to treat others and with handling domestic violence,” Reed said. “Officers have to be held to a higher standard regardless of whether you are wearing the uniform or out for a night on the town.”

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN

Charles E. Ramirez contributed to this report