Warren couple says Detroit police raid violated rights

Tom Greenwood and George Hunter
The Detroit News
View Comments

A Warren couple whose medical marijuana operation was raided by the Detroit Police Department’s narcotics unit have filed a civil lawsuit against the officers, including one who killed himself after being investigated for corruption by the FBI and Internal Affairs.

The complaint was filed Wednesday in federal court by Timothy and Hatema Davis and names the city of Detroit as well as Lt. Charles Flanagan, former head of the DPD’s narcotics unit, Detective James Napier and officers “Novak” and “John Doe.”

Napier, who according to sources was being investigated for narcotics corruption, shot himself Jan. 22 while sitting in his car outside his parents’ home in Sterling Heights.

The lawsuit alleges that on Dec. 28, 2013, the officers illegally raided the Davis home in Warren, which was the site of a legal marijuana growing facility.

The complaint alleges officers broke down a door and pointed weapons at Davis and his wife while failing to produce a search warrant.

Over the next few hours, the officers allegedly tore the house apart, seized 50 marijuana plants and related items and then transported the couple to a location in Detroit where they were questioned for another five hours, according to the lawsuit.

The couple were eventually released and never faced any charges, according to the complaint.

Detroit police spokeswoman June West said Thursday the department had just become aware of the Warren couple’s lawsuit.

“We don’t comment on litigation ... but there is no indication that this is connected to the federal investigation, which is isolated to a single team in the now disbanded narcotics unit.”

Flanagan told The Detroit News: “All the allegations are false. Just because an arrest warrant hasn’t been presented yet doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future. The investigation is still ongoing.”

He added Napier had left the narcotics squad by the time Flanagan assumed command of the unit.

Flanagan — who reportedly was not the subject of any corruption investigation — declined to expand his comments because of the pending lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants “have engaged in similar unlawful searches and seizures of other legitimate marijuana grow facilities in and around the city of Detroit” and that the city “has allowed an unconstitutional policy, custom and practice to flourish within its police department.”

The lawsuit also accused the city of failing to properly train its employees and officers, which allows a “culture of corruption to flourish within certain ranks of its police department including the narcotics unit.”

The complaint asks for compensation for the Davises plus attorney fees.

In July, Detroit Police Chief James Craig dismantled the narcotics unit in light of the investigation and replaced it with the major violators section.

Meanwhile, Flanagan, along with Craig and Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt, are accused of racism and harassment in a lawsuit filed in October by a former Detroit police officer.

The lawsuit was filed by Sgt. Myron Weathers, a 19-year veteran, in Wayne County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleges Flanagan appointed an “unqualified white female officer” to a Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force.

Weathers said he was seeking damages of more than $25,000 because of retaliation for “questioning the assignment of an unqualified white, female officer to (Flanagan’s) crew.”

In response, Flanagan said Weathers took big screen TVs, a tablet and a video game system for his personal use after they were seized from drug dealers.

Flanagan also said rocks of crack cocaine that hadn’t been logged as evidence were found inside the desks of officers. Flanagan’s allegations initiated an internal investigation in May.

In his lawsuit, Weathers denied Flanagan’s accusations, saying he hadn’t improperly used the confiscated equipment and he had “repurposed” the TVs “for training purposes.”

In an earlier interview, Flanagan called Weathers’ suit a case of “sour grapes.”

Flanagan filed his own EEOC complaint in May claiming he was the victim of racial discrimination by black supervisors.

He also alleged he was exposed to a hostile work environment because he blew the whistle on alleged wrongdoings in the narcotics unit that happened before he took over the squad.


(313) 222-2023

View Comments