MSP trooper accused of using force in Saginaw traffic stop suspended

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Michigan State Police trooper has been suspended after he was accused of using force during a traffic stop Monday night in Saginaw, officials said.

The trooper assigned to the Tri-City Post had pulled over a driver suspected of operating while under the influence, the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

"The MSP’s Professional Standards Section immediately began an internal investigation after becoming aware of citizen videos, which appear to show the trooper striking the face of the handcuffed suspect, circulating on social media," according to the release.

A brief video of the encounter posted on Facebook on Monday appeared to show a handcuffed African American man, surrounded by troopers and other officers, seemingly resisting entering a state police vehicle. Someone in a dark uniform with state police in white letters on the back then is seen hitting him in the face at least three times.

The handcuffed man is recorded falling to the pavement, his pants falling down. Seconds later, the other officers are seen helping him to his feet and back to the MSP car, its siren still flashing.

Someone recording the encounter had repeatedly told the man to get in the car, then also shouted at the officers involved.

"Aw, you can't hit him," the man recording the video said. 

State police did not describe the incident in their statement Tuesday but said "department policy strictly outlines use of force, and consistent with training troopers receive, specifically prohibits the use of force that is objectively unreasonable or excessive, in any scenario."

According to a collective bargaining agreement, the trooper, who has been with MSP for four years, was suspended Tuesday as an internal investigation continues, representatives said.

State police said they investigate all allegations of wrongdoing.

“Our enforcement members respond professionally to a wide variety of scenarios throughout the State of Michigan every day,” said Col. Joe Gasper, the MSP director. “The misconduct in this incident is not indicative of the standard of service set by this trooper’s peers, and as a result, will not be tolerated.”