Pittsburgh-area official, spouse plan to sue Detroit police

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A Pittsburgh-area elected official and her husband plan to sue the Detroit police and a downtown Detroit hotel, their lawyers said Monday after they were arraigned for allegedly causing a disturbance and interfering with cops earlier this month.

Prosecutors say Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner interfered with Detroit police officers as they were preparing to remove her husband, Khari Mosley, from the Westin Book Cadillac hotel on March 6, authorities allege. The couple was in Detroit for a concert.

Wagner is charged with two counts of resisting and obstructing the police, a felony carrying a maximum penalty of two years in prison, and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. Mosley also was charged with disorderly conduct, and another misdemeanor, disturbing the peace.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is charged with two counts of resisting and obstructing the police and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.

The misdemeanor charges carry a 90-day jail penalty.

Wagner and her husband had the charges read to them in separate video arraignments Monday before 36th District Magistrate Dawn M. White, who set their bonds at $5,000 each after entering not-guilty pleas for both defendants.

Wagner is scheduled for an April 1 probable cause hearing, and an April 8 preliminary examination before 36th District Judge Ronald Giles. Mosley has a pretrial hearing scheduled for April 1 before 36th District Judge Kenneth King.

White lifted travel restrictions for the couple, allowing them to return to Pennsylvania. She also imposed a no-drinking restriction on Mosley.

After Monday's brief hearing, the couple's attorneys, Thomas Fitzpatrick and Charles Longstreet, said they plan to sue the police department and the hotel.

"We will be seeking civil redress," Fitzpatrick said, adding he plans to sue both the police and hotel. "Mr. Wagner and Mr. Mosley are in the right, and I expect them to be fully vindicated."

Fitzpatrick said he informed Wayne County prosecutors on March 19 he planned to bring a lawsuit, and he said the next day, charges were filed against his clients. "You do the math," he said.

Fitzpatrick said the charges won't affect Wagner's ability to do her job. "She's committed to continue to serve the electorate, and she's seeking re-election unopposed," he said. "Ms. Wagner is an excellent worker for the people of Pennsylvania."

Khari Mosley, husband of Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, appears in a video arraignment at 36th District Court in Detroit, Monday.

Longstreet added: "(My clients) are very nice people. I believe this was over-charged, and ... Ms. Wagner was body-slammed by the police."

But Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy last week lauded the police officers' actions during the incident.

"The officers involved in this case used remarkable restraint while dealing with the combined actions of these defendants," Worthy said in a statement. "The evidence will show that during the incident Ms. Wagner and Mr. Mosley disparaged the officers and the hotel employees.”

Two weeks ago, Wagner and Mosley issued a statement through a public relations firm saying “our rights were grossly violated.”

According to a news release from Worthy's office, the incident began shortly after midnight March 6 with a 911 call.

"Police were called to the hotel to investigate a disturbance that was created by Mr. Mosley at the reception desk, in the elevator area, and the entry way of the hotel," the release said. "He was irate that hotel personnel would not allow him up to the room which was registered only in his wife’s name, when he did not have a room key.

"The hotel manager called the room and no one answered the phone," the release said. "When the police arrived, it is alleged that he was gesturing and speaking loudly in a confrontational manner to the hotel staff.

"During their investigation, the police went to Ms. Wagner’s room to confirm that Mr. Mosley was her husband," according to the prosecutor's office. "After Ms. Wagner confirmed the information, Mr. Mosley eventually calmed down and was allowed into the room by the police.

"While the police were leaving, but still in the hallway, they heard a loud noise and shouting inside the room," the release said. "This caused them to return to the room to investigate."

Police told Wagner that hotel security had requested her husband leave the facility, the prosecutor's office said, although the guard told her she could stay.

"When an officer tried to remove Mr. Mosley, Ms. Wagner prevented the officer from taking action," the release said. " It is alleged that she put her arm on him, and when he moved her arm to get into the room, she pushed his hand away.

"Mr. Mosley was placed in handcuffs, and as the officers and hotel security walked him to the elevator, it is alleged that Ms. Wagner blocked the elevator door. The officer with Mr. Mosley asked Ms. Wagner to move several times and she continued to block the elevator door.

"It is alleged that she grabbed and pushed the officer and he used his arm to move her during the assault, and she fell to the floor. Ms. Wagner was placed under arrest for assaulting the officer. While the officer attempted to handcuff her, she resisted and was uncooperative."

The Detroit News reviewed police video footage that showed Wagner grappling with a police officer on multiple occasions. At one point, an officer removed the Taser stun gun from his belt, but holstered it.

 Officers transported Wagner to the Detroit Detention Center. "Her husband, who was no longer causing a disturbance, was not arrested and was allowed to go to a nearby hotel," the prosecutor's news release said.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN