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Nessel's office to probe Royal Oak police stop of black man

Gregg Krupa Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

State Attorney General Dana Nessel on Friday directed the Civil Rights Division of her department to investigate the response of Royal Oak Police to a 911 call from a woman complaining that a black man was making her uneasy.

Royal Oak police have disciplined one officer and will provide more training for a second, and they have apologized to Devin Myers, who was detained, but not arrested, in the Tuesday incident.

In the 911 call, the woman complained someone circling her car and possibly taking photographs of her and her son.

Myers is black.

“The Civil Rights Division within the Michigan Department of Attorney General is investigating what occurred in Royal Oak on Tuesday,” Nessel said.

“If ever there are concerns that the civil rights of Michigan residents have been violated, our office stands ready to investigate and pursue such matters.”

Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue said the first responding officer should not have demanded Myers’s identification, and should have allowed him to leave, after explaining why he had been stopped.

A second responding officer, a supervisor, who was requested to the scene by Myers, acted properly in letting him go quickly, O’Donohue said. But the supervisor should have used more awareness and provided everyone at the scene an opportunity to express their concerns.

The first officer, who is on probation early in his service, Michael Pilcher, is to receive additional training.

The chief would not say what discipline the supervising officer, Terry Oaks, received.

A video taken of the incident by a witness, Kimiko Adolph, went viral and drew attention to the police stop.

The matter began when a woman called 911 with a complaint.

“She did indicate that someone was circling her car, staring in at her. And, she said they thought they might have taken photos of her and her son, and she was concerned,” O'Donohue said.

According to the 911 tape the Police Department released Thursday, the woman told a dispatcher an African American man was "just staring at me" and "it’s … making me feel not very comfortable at all." She said she and her son, who drove separately, had just left the Inn Season Cafe and the man "came up right behind me as I was getting into my vehicle."

The woman indicated the man had moved his car then waited down the street.

According to dash cam audio the department released Thursday, an officer pulls up near the woman's car and asks her to point out which man she referred to in the 911 call.

When reaching Myers, according to the tape, the officer is heard telling him police were called to the scene since the woman had said Myers "was staring at her."

Myers called the situation "ridiculous," said he was seeking a parking spot and hadn't harassed the woman.

The officer told him Myers made the woman "uncomfortable" and he was "prolonging" police involvement by not cooperating.

"But I didn’t commit a crime," Myers said, according to the recording.

A spokeswoman for Nessel said it is not clear how long the investigation will take.