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Detroit cop facing assault charges, other felonies

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Highland Park — Detroit police officer Kwame Powell, on unpaid suspension as he faces charges related to an April 5 assault of his girlfriend, was bound over for trial Tuesday in 30th District Court.

Judge Brigette Officer-Hill decided there was enough evidence presented for Powell’s case to move forward. Powell’s next appearance is at 9 a.m. May 9 inside Wayne County Circuit Court.

Only one person offered testimony at Powell’s exam: the woman who accuses Powell of the assault.

Defense attorney Randall Upshaw asked about the rocky relationship between the two, who’d been dating for a year-and-a-half before the incident.

He asked if the couple ever had a physical altercation before; she said Powell had hit her about two months before the incident, but that she’d never called 911 or sought medical attention.

On the stand, the victim said she was choked by Powell no less than four times the morning of April 5, starting when she woke up about 3 a.m., with Powell smelling of alcohol as he choked her while standing at the side of his bed.

The couple had gone out to dinner at Inyo that night but had a “heated discussion” afterward, the woman said. They returned to Powell’s Highland Park home, where he let her in but went out again.

The victim said she was able to escape being choked, and ran into the living room. Powell chased and choked her from behind for “eight seconds,” she said.

When he let go, the victim said, she grabbed her cellphone, which was near the front door, and tried to call 911, but was prevented by Powell.

As she neared the front door again, she said Powell slammed her to the kitchen floor. She was face up.

“This time he choked me the hardest; it felt like my eyes were going to pop out of my head,” she said.

This time she escaped from the house, but not before grabbing Powell’s cellphone, the woman testified.

Upshaw said Powell followed her outside to get his phone back.

The victim said that when they neared her Mazda 6, Powell pushed her in the back so she was face down on the trunk. With one hand, she said, Powell choked her, and with the other he put a handgun to her right temple.

It was a black gun with a “soft holster,” and she’d seen it before, the victim said.

“(Powell) said he could kill me and nothing would happen because he was DPD,” she said. “I was afraid.”

She escaped and headed toward the front door of her Mazda. She’d dropped Powell’s phone, and Powell threw her phone to her.

She got inside the car and drove off, calling 911 from her phone. Powell, she said, followed on foot and then in his gold Pontiac. She turned left from East Grand Boulevard onto Woodward and pulled into a gas station when she saw a Highland Park police officer outside.

As the investigation began, police took photos of both parties. It wasn’t until 6:30 a.m. that the woman left and headed back to her home. Powell was arrested and released after being given a $50,000 personal bond.

The woman said she spoke with three family members over the phone, and was urged to file a personal protection order against Powell, which she did. The order was granted.

Hours later, the victim said, she sought medical attention at a Beaumont hospital.

Officer-Hill granted Upshaw’s requests for pictures taken of the woman at the gas station — which caused a short break in the proceeding — and for her medical records. She denied Upshaw’s request for psychiatric records.

Afrer the hearing, Upshaw said he plans to challenge the personal protection order entered against Powell, which prohibits him from carrying a gun.

Unless successfully challenged, that prohibition, which runs through April 5, 2018, a year from when it was granted, would be in effect even if the Detroit Police Department lifted Powell’s suspension.