Felony charge tossed for Detroit cop in hospital clash
A Detroit judge dismissed a felony charge against a city police officer in the beating of a mentally ill woman at Detroit Receiving Hospital.
Judge Cylenthia Miller of 36th District Court dismissed the misconduct in office charge against Detroit Police Cpl. Dewayne Jones in connection with the incident involving the 29-year-old Detroit woman.
Jones still faces misdemeanor assault and battery charges in the incident.
Video footage shown in court last month showed the police officer punching the woman after she spit at him.
Miller said the woman was "completely out of control" and that Jones "had the presence of mind" to get control of her.
"This woman was out of control," said Miller, who said she has to look at the "totality" of the case. "He could have gone off. He never did. ... He didn't have a right to hit her because she cussed at him. He didn't have a right to hit her because she spit and he didn't. He still maintained his composure. He just kept saying 'sit down.'''
Miller said the woman became more aggressive, biting a hospital security officer, and trying to bite Jones. "At that point you've got a person who's cussing, yelling, biting, balled fists, saying 'I'm going to (expletive) you up.'"
"Yes he swung at her probably 11, 12, 13 times. He actually only connected about eight or nine (times) in that eight seconds and yes, he did punch her in her side and yes he did punch her in the back," said the judge.
"But that whole time, she was fighting. She was fighting him. ... She was fighting five people. One itty bitty woman, but who is mentally ill, unstable and completely out of control, completely. It's not her fault. It's tragic. It's sad that she was that ill."
Jones, an 18-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department, encountered the naked woman near the hospital around 7:10 p.m. Aug 1 after he and his partner, Officer Stacey Taylor, were called there on a "lewd and lascivious" report.
Jones was charged with misconduct in office, a felony; and assault and battery, a misdemeanor.
Taylor, who has said Jones behavior exhibited "reasonable" force, said Tuesday that "after seeing video of (the incident), my opinion has changed."
Taylor said Jones "went overboard with it."
Assistant Prosecutor Joshua Holman said Jones' actions were not justified.
"When you look at that, you take a step back and you go, 'Oh my God is this what we expect of our officers?' Is this how they're to be handling people, those who are most in need of help? I don't think there's any doubt that (the woman) was in need of help in this particular case."
Holman said the woman was in the midst of a mental breakdown.
"She was suffering from whether it be a psychotic episode ... a mental health breakdown," the prosecutor said. "She is the victim in this particular case."
Jones' attorney Pamella Szydlak told the judge the corporal acted "like nothing but a gentleman" to the woman, even getting her a sheet to cover herself up and "tried to de-escalate the situation" when the woman became combative.
"He was nothing but a gentleman," said Szydlak. "(The woman) for whatever reason became extremely combative, extremely aggressive. She threatens to kill Corporal Jones to the nurse, spits on the nurse, threatens to kill someone's mama. But then the words turn into behavior and that's where we have a problem.
"I really don't know what the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office wants the Detroit police officers to do nowadays," she said. "She was spitting, she was biting, she had bit the guards at the hospital on two occasions. She tried to take a bite out of Corporal Jones. She was fighting the entire time."
Szydlak said Jones "had no choice" but to use force with the woman.
"He used the hard hands, Judge, because he had to," Szydlak said. "This was 11 seconds — 11 seconds that Corporal Jones acted in accordance with Michigan State Police Commission's procedures and Detroit Police Department's procedures."