Off-duty Detroit police officer arrested after fleeing police

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Correction: Detroit police say the vehicle that was stolen and crashed was a Challenger, not a Charger as they originally said.

Detroit — A stolen Dodge Challenger speeding through the city's west side without plates ended up in a crash, leading to a foot chase that resulted in the arrest and suspension of an off-duty Detroit police officer.

The incident started early Sunday morning when officers noticed a speeding newer-model Challenger near Fullerton and Washburn on Detroit's west side that didn't appear to have plates, Assistant Police Chief David LeValley said.

Assistant Detroit Chief David LeValley, shown on May 17, 2021, said on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 that an off-duty Detroit police officer was arrested early Sunday after officers noticed a speeding newer-model Dodge Challenger near Fullerton and Washburn on Detroit's west side that didn't appear to have plates.

"Officers approached the vehicle and tried to do a traffic stop, but ... the vehicle continued to drive at a high rate of speed," LeValley said. "The officers observed the vehicle crash, and two individuals fled on foot."

Officers tracked the Challenger's passenger into a nearby backyard, LeValley said.

"They identified that individual as an off-duty police officer," LeValley said. 

The man, whose name was not released because he's not yet been charged, was arrested and taken to the Detroit Detention Center, where he stayed until his release Tuesday, LeValley said.

Police are still looking for the driver of the car, 2nd Deputy Chief Rudy Harper said.

Later in the investigation, police discovered the Challenger had been stolen from Ohio "several months prior," LeValley said. "It appears the vehicle was retagged and was being driven in the state of Michigan under a different (vehicle identification number.)"

LeValley said internal affairs investigators have taken over the case, and likely will present a warrant package to Wayne County prosecutors seeking a resisting and obstructing charge, a felony which carries up to two years in prison.

Investigators weren't sure Thursday whether the officer was involved in the theft of the vehicle, LeValley said, adding that the warrant had not yet been presented to prosecutors.

Detroit police chief James White suspended the officer immediately after the incident, LeValley said. Per the Detroit Police Officers Association contract, the suspension initially was with pay, although White is expected to ask the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners Thursday to withhold the officer's pay.

LeValley called the incident "horribly disappointing."

"If the allegations are true, it's really a slap in the face to the approximately 2,500 people who wear the badge today with honor and respect," he said. "There's no room on the department for conduct like this."

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN