Detroit cop guilty of misdemeanor in school joyride
Pontiac – A Detroit police union official who swerved off roads and through the Holly Academy school campus last winter was convicted Monday of reckless driving but will avoid prison and the loss of his police license.
Mark Diaz, 42, of Holly, the president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, was found guilty of the misdemeanor charge but acquitted of malicious destruction of property over $1,000, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
An Oakland Circuit Court jury deliberated less than three hours before convicting him guilty of the reckless driving charge – punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine. A felony conviction would have meant a mandatory revocation of his license to be a police officer.
Diaz, who remains free on personal bond pending a Nov. 14 sentencing before Judge Leo Bowman, could not be immediately reached for comment. Diaz never denied driving his union-provided GMC pickup truck through the school’s 34-acre campus on Dec. 20 but explained to the jury he made the “foolish” decision to drive off road and through multiple snow banks to “test” its four-wheel drive capability.
No one was injured in the 9 p.m. incident but Diaz did $4,200 damage to school property, specifically a snow-covered culvert, according to school officials.
Diaz’s attorney James Thomas told the jury that while his client did not demonstrate good judgment in the incident, he had not committed a criminal offense under state law because he lacked intent to cause injury or property damage.
Assistant prosecutor Andrew Starr described the driving incident as reckless and careless.
Diaz was singled out as the suspect the following day when a school employee followed tire tracks to a neighboring subdivision where the truck was parked with visible front-end damage after driving over a steel cable.
Diaz who described the incident as “embarrassing,” has been suspended and on paid administrative leave after an internal investigation.
Hermina Kramp, acting director of the Michigan Commission On Law Enforcement Standards – which licenses and sets policy for Michigan’s 18,400 law enforcement officers – said any felony carrying one year or more in prison or a misdemeanor involving assault results in a mandatory revocation of an officer’s license.
About 15 to 20 revocations occur every year, Kramp said.