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2 officials in Macomb not charged after violence claims

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Mount Clemens — Prosecutors have declined to pursue charges in separate cases involving two officials and claims of violence in Macomb County, the sheriff's office said Tuesday.

In the the more recent incident, deputies were called Sunday to the Washington Township home of Macomb County Commissioner Don Brown on a report of a domestic incident involving him and his girlfriend.

Brown was taken into custody and later released pending a review of the incident by the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office, which determined there were “mutual combatants” in the incident, the sheriff's office said in a news release.

Macomb County Commissioner Don Brown

The sheriff's office also said it had referred a July 18 incident involving Warren Deputy Police Commissioner Matthew Nichols to the prosecutor’s office for aggravated assault but charges were denied.

“We will have no further comment on either incident,” Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said Tuesday.

Neither Brown nor Nichols could be reached for comment Tuesday. Brown, a Republican who represents 10 northern Macomb County communities, released a statement describing the incident Sunday as a "personal issue within my private life." He said he and his girlfriend were involved in a "disagreement" and she called police to "defuse the situation."

Calls to Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith for comment were not returned but Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer said he was “disappointed” by Smith’s decision.

The assault allegation involved a suspected shoplifter at a Lowe’s store on Van Dyke who had been taken into custody. Two Warren officers later reported that Nichols showed up at the scene and assaulted the man, who was later charged with retail fraud.

Nichols was initially suspended with pay and in late July, a few days before the probe was turned over to the sheriff's office, placed on administrative leave without pay. Dwyer said Nichols has not been returned to duty pending further investigation.

“Two of my officers felt excessive force has been used and I felt it serious enough at the time to suspend him (Nichols) and immediately referred it to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office for an independent investigation," he said. "The sheriff's office obviously also felt assault had occurred."

Dwyer would neither confirm nor deny that the incident was being reviewed by a federal agency. FBI spokeswoman Mara Schneider declined to say whether federal authorities are investigating.

“We are aware of the incident but our policy is to neither confirm nor deny any involvement,” she said.

Schneider said the FBI has the power to investigate reports of crimes, even if they don’t result in state offenses, under particular circumstances where federal laws may have been violated.


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