Craig suspends cop in off-duty gun incident

George Hunter
The Detroit News

A Detroit police officer who was charged with four felonies after allegedly pulling his service pistol on two men outside a downtown Detroit bar Sunday morning has been suspended, the city’s police chief said Monday.

Officer Willie Fortner

Officer Willie Fortner, 25, of the 5th Precinct was arraigned Monday on two counts of felonious assault, two counts of felony firearm, and domestic violence after the alleged incident outside a bar at Fort Street and Beaubien near Greektown.

Prosecutors say Fortner assaulted his girlfriend following an argument inside the bar, and when two Good Samaritans tried to intervene, he allegedly retrieved his gun from the trunk of his car and pointed it at the two men.

During a press conference at police headquarters, Police Chief James Craig said Fortner has been suspended with pay, but added he will ask the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners Thursday to withhold the officer’s pay.

Craig said Fortner, a two-year police veteran, is the seventh Detroit officer charged with a crime in 2018.

“Of that, four involved alcohol, and two involved on-duty neglect of duty,” Craig said, adding the number of officers charged with crimes is “about the same” as previous years.

“But one of these instances is too many,” he said. “We have zero tolerance for officers engaging in criminal misconduct, and we take prompt action not some of the time but all of the time.”

Wayne County assistant prosecutor Maria Miller said in a press release: “Fortner physically assaulted his 22-year-old girlfriend. A 29-year-old man and a 20-year-old man observed the defendant physically assaulting the woman, and both men intervened to protect her.

“It is alleged that Fortner had a verbal dispute with the men, went to the trunk of his car, removed a hand gun, and pointed it at both men, causing them to run for cover,” Miller said. “Detroit police officers were dispatched to the location and placed Fortner under arrest.”

Craig praised how Detroit officers and supervisors handled the incident.

“One of the criticisms police departments sometimes face is whether we treat police officers facing criminal investigations any differently,” Craig said. “(Fortner) was immediately taken into custody, witnesses were obtained, and video was obtained. I applaud the (officers and supervisors on the scene), who did a good job.”

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN