Attorneys say suspended Detroit cop unfairly portrayed as a coward

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — The attorneys for a Detroit police sergeant who was suspended for his response to last week's fatal shooting of Officer Rasheen McClain say their client, a longtime cop who was a Marine, is being falsely portrayed as a coward.

Sgt. Ronald Kidd was suspended Monday after police Chief James Craig said he sat in his squad car Nov. 20, as fellow officers screamed over the police radio for someone to help McClain, who'd just been shot.

Detroit officers on the corners of Wyoming and Chippewa where two Detroit police officers were shot in an ambush-style attack Wednesday night.

McClain was killed after he and partner Phillippe Batoum-Bisse responded to a reported home invasion by a 28-year-old man armed with a rifle. According to Craig, McClain called for backup and then led a team of four officers into the house to search for the gunman.

As they descended the basement stairs, Craig said the man fired two shots, striking McClain in the neck and Batoum-Bisse in the left ankle.

Officer Rasheen McClain

Police investigators sent a warrant request to Wayne County Prosecutor's Office seeking murder charges against the suspect, but prosecutors returned the warrant for more work. 

Craig criticized Kidd, saying he "sat in his scout car a block away while you could hear people screaming ‘officer down’ on the radio."

Craig added police officials are considering whether to seek misdemeanor neglect of duty charges against Kidd. The charges carry a maximum of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Kidd's attorneys, Odey Meroueh and Zachary Hallman, issued a statement insisting their client is being unfairly portrayed as a coward.

"We believe the characterization of Sgt. Kidd's character to be inaccurate and defamatory — particularly in light of his 21 years of service to the City of Detroit and before that to our country as a United States Marine."

Reached by phone Friday, Meroueh declined further comment.

Kidd was fired from the police department in 2014 for cowardice after police video showed he failed to act while his female partner was being assaulted by a mentally ill man in a detention facility, Craig said.

Kidd got his job back via an internal plea agreement, although Craig said he didn't agree to the 2015 deal, which he said was signed by someone else using the chief's name. Craig said he's investigating what happened with the signature, which he insisted wasn't his handwriting.

That agreement lowered Kidd's punishment from termination for cowardice to a 68-day suspension, Craig said.

Kidd, who has been with the department since 1998, was promoted to the rank of sergeant in June 2018. Craig said union rules mandated Kidd be put on the promotion list, although the chief said at a Tuesday press conference: "If it was up to me, I wouldn't have promoted him."

Craig announced Monday he'd suspended Kidd after reviewing the McClain shooting.

McClain's death was the culmination of a series of shootings involving the suspect, a parolee whom police officials say was obsessed with a 16-year-old girl and a 32-year-old woman, police said.

Craig said the suspect was in relationships with the teenager and the woman. The woman lived in the house on Wyoming where McClain and his partner were shot, although the 16-year-old does not live there as police initially thought, Craig said. He added investigators have not been able to locate the teen.

"This is a very complicated case," Craig said at the Tuesday press briefing. "I was initially led to believe that (the suspect) was going to the house to seek out the 16-year-old, but it turns out, he is in a relationship with a 32-year-old female. He also had a dating relationship with the 16-year-old."

Craig said the two females are not related. The chief also said the suspect stayed at the home from time to time but did not live there.

On Oct. 30, the suspect went to the Wyoming house demanding to see the woman, Craig said. "Her son didn't want him there; he refused entry, so (the suspect) shot the house up."

"The 16-year-old was a factor," the chief said. "We believe that was part of his rage. He had some kind of dating relationship with her."

An internal investigation into how detectives followed up on that shooting is ongoing, Craig said. Earlier, he told The Detroit News that investigators tried once to contact the home's occupants and then sent a letter asking them to call back, rather than following up in person.

Craig said the suspect returned to the home, looking for the 32-year-old woman and then allegedly broke into the house and holed up inside with a rifle.

After the shooting, Craig said sergeants from neighboring precincts — Edward Brannock, Craig Schrameck and John Claybourne — took charge of the situation.

"They responded how you'd expect supervisors to respond to such a situation," Craig said.