Chief Craig: Race played no role in Cushingberry traffic stop - KMSP-TV

Chief Craig: Race played no role in Cushingberry traffic stop

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Detroit Police Chief James Craig in the Fox 2 newsroom. (PHOTO; WJBK) Detroit Police Chief James Craig in the Fox 2 newsroom. (PHOTO; WJBK)
(WJBK) -

A Detroit city councilman says he wasn't drunk and is a victim of racial profiling after being stopped by police. Detroit Police Chief James Craig says there is no indication of profiling.

On Tuesday, George Cushingberry Jr. was ticketed for failing to use a turn signal after leaving a bar.

Officers on the scene say they smelled alcohol emanating from the car as well an odor of marijuana.

Cushingberry offered an explanation to Fox 2's Alexis Wiley: "There was another man in the car with me by the name of Richard Clement, who is a Michigan medical marijuana patient. He had marijuana on his person. That's what the cops smelled. He told them up front that he was a medical marijuana patient. There was an empty bottle that was in the back of my car but it was an old bottle. And, so, when the supervisor came, he said, 'There's no open alcohol; there's nothing in this."

Cushingberry also tells Wiley that he and his friend were handcuffed together.  He says he was not allowed to put on gloves on the coldest day of the year.  A supervisor was called to the scene and in the end nothing more than a ticket for failing to use a traffic signal was issued.


Did Cushingberry receive preferential treatment because of his position as Detroit City Council President Pro Tem? 

Was Cushingberry stopped because of his profile as a black man?

On Friday, Chief Craig came to Fox 2 to offer insight into an investigation on how the DPD supervisor attached to this incident handled the stop.

PLAY THE VIDEO IN THE PLAYER TO HEAR CRAIG ANSWER MAURIELLE LUE'S QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INCIDENT.

CHIEF CRAIG ON DID THE TWO OFFICERS USE RACIAL PROFILING: "The officers initiated a legal stop, which ultimately resulted in a citation. I've heard some of the reports.. two white offers, radically profiling... I had a chance to sit down with the two officers involved.  Factually one officer is African American and the other is Middle Eastern.  I take a very serious stance on biased policing, we consider that serious misconduct. There has been no indication of biased policing."

CHIEF CRAIG ON PROTOCOL OF CONTACTING A SUPERVISOR: "In the instance of this stop, because it was involving an elected official, it is an expectation, it's part of our rules, that they contact a supervisor, making them aware of such a stop.  They followed protocol.  Right now based on the investigation, we've done thus far, the officers did nothing wrong.  There is however an open investigation as it relates to the concerned supervisor."

CHIEF CRAIG ON SPECIAL TREATMENT: "He did not receive special treatment from my office. I have a high expectation that we don't engage in special treatment.  If the supervisor felt we should treat this situation differently because of the person's status, then that is problematic. I am not prepared to address that because this investigation is very early."

CHIEF CRAIG ON WHY A BREATHILIZER WAS NOT USED: "There was no indication that the council member was under the influence. Yes they (the officers) did smell alcohol emanating from inside the vehicle. They did indicate there was a strong odor of marijuana emanating from inside the vehicle.  No officer indicated there were any obvious objective symptoms that the council member was under the influence. Generally when an officer stops a motorist and there are objective symptoms like bloodshot eyes, if they get out of the car and have an unsteady gate, slurred speech, those are indications that the person may be under the influence. I got no indication at this point in the investigation that they had any reason to believe he was under the influence. "

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