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Cop in arrest caught on video has checkered past

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Highland Park — One of the officers shown on video hitting a carjacking suspect during his arrest has a history of violence in several area police departments.

Highland Park Sgt. Ronald Dupuis, 42, had been fired from the Hamtramck Police Department for Tasering his partner after arguing over a pop, and he was reprimanded for assaulting a mentally disabled man at a gas station while working for Southgate Police.

Dupuis was one of the officers shown hitting 51-year-old carjacking suspect Andrew Jackson Jr., who had absconded from parole.

The video of the arrest, which was recorded by Detroit resident Emma Craig on Monday on the city's northwest side and posted on Facebook, shows Dupuis striking the suspect several times while apparently trying to handcuff him and administering a final blow after Jackson's hands were secured behind his back.

A second officer, a sergeant from Grosse Pointe Park, is also seen on the video becoming angry after Jackson calls out for Jesus.

The incident is being investigated by Michigan State Police, and Wayne County prosecutors are considering whether to charge Jackson with carjacking, after receiving a warrant request Wednesday.

Highland Park city attorney Todd Perkins said Wednesday city and police officials are weighing whether to suspend Dupuis, adding action most likely won't be taken until the State Police investigation is completed.

"We've made no decision at this point," Perkins said. "My inclination is to let the process be conducted, and have faith in the process that it will work, and they'll make a decision at that point.

"I'm going to have a meeting with the mayor and the police chief to determine what immediate course of action we'll take."

Detroit Coaliton Against Police Brutality director Ron Scott called Dupuis "an accident waiting to happen."

"This sends a bad message to the public, that Highland Park wouldn't do a background check on him the way you would with any other job," Scott said.

Dupuis has worked at several police agencies over his career: Inkster, Ecorse, Hudson, Southgate, two stints at Highland Park, Hamtramck, and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.

He was fired from the Hamtramck Police Department after a November 2005 incident in which he shot his partner, Prema Graham, in the leg with his department-issued Taser.

According to court records, the partners began arguing after Dupuis demanded she stop their squad car at a store so he could buy a soft drink. The two struggled over control of the steering wheel and Dupuis hit her leg with his department-issued Taser. She was not seriously hurt.

Dupuis was charged with assault and battery, and although he was acquitted of the charge by a jury, an arbitrator upheld his firing by the Hamtramck Police Department, saying "there is clear and convincing evidence that Officer Dupuis Tasered Officer Graham."

Maxim magazine poked fun at the incident and Dupuis sued the publication, although the suit was dismissed.

In 1998, while working for the Southgate Police Department, Dupuis was given a written reprimand after he allegedly assaulted a mentally disabled man in a gas station.

There also have been several federal lawsuits filed against Dupuis alleging assault and various other infractions, although most of the cases were dismissed.

But in 2005, Dupuis settled a lawsuit for $20,000 after he and another Hamtramck police officer were accused of assaulting a man during an April 2002 traffic stop.

Attorney Ben Gonek, who represented the man who sued Dupuis in that case, said the officer was "the worst I've ever deposed in my career, and I've deposed dozens of police officers.

"Usually, when you go over an officer's history, there might be one or two instances where citizens accuse him of wrongdoing, but with him, it was one thing after the other, going back to when he was in Southgate."

Gonek said he settled the case, in which Dupuis was accused of beating a man suspected of stealing a car, because he was afraid Hamtramck would indemnify the officer after he was fired for the Tasering incident.

Gonek said he was appointed to represent Jackson in the beating case, and when he heard Dupuis' name mentioned, he thought, "I know that sounds familiar."

"Then I realized who it was," Gonek said. "I was shocked. It's mind-boggling that he's still a police officer. He had the incident in Southgate where he was reprimanded for beating up the handicapped man, and several other incidents. I can't understand why he's still got a job."

Most recently, Dupuis made news after he shot himself in the leg in 2012 while inside the Highland Park police station.

Perkins said he's aware of Dupuis' checkered past, although he said he will "draw no conclusions" from it.

"A lot of those are what I would call allegations," he said.

When asked why the city would hire a police officer who'd been fired from another department for shooting his Taser at his partner's leg, Perkins said: "That was prior to me coming on as city attorney, so I can't answer that."

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