DETROIT (WXYZ) — Richard Meredith spent 20 years in the United States Marine Corps and another 10 on Wayne County’s SWAT team. But the only years in uniform he regrets, he says, were on the police force for Wayne County Community College.
“This isn’t me being disgruntled,” Meredith said. “I quit. I wasn’t fired.”
He spent three years at the college’s police authority, run by Chief Darrick Muhammad.
As 7 Action News revealed earlier this month, at least six former employees have claimed under oath that Muhammad sexually harassed them — a claim he denies.
But throughout his career, Muhammad has had a slew of other allegations lodged against him including some in a criminal court.
In 1993, Muhammad was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder against his ex-wife, ultimately pleading guilty to assault and battery.
Two years after that, his ex-wife sought a personal protection order against him, saying he tried to run her and her children over and then “fired shots” at them from his car. Reached on his cell phone, Muhammad would not discuss the allegations and hung up the phone.
While an officer, Meredith and others say they were frequently used by Muhammad to run errands. Meredith said he was often taken away from patrolling campus to pick up the chief's lunch.
“I was at the Downtown Campus, the only armed person,” Meredith said. “They had me go to Mr. Fish to pick up food.”
But when he arrived, Meredith said the order wasn't ready.
“I was gone 50 minutes and I told them, 'If something happens at this campus while I’m gone and they say, where were you? I’m going to point-blank tell them: I was on a lunch run for the chief,'” Meredith said.
Multiple other employees, in interview or affidavits, said they were tasked with running personal errands for the chief, too.
“Hey, I need you to go get me a pizza,” recalled Zevan Lejeune, a former WCCCD officer. “Or I need you to go put gas in my car or I need you to go put gas in the chancellor’s wife’s car.”
Anita Akbar was an officer for four years and recalled when she was pulled from patrolling campus to watch the chief’s house while he had a generator installed.
“Whatever the chief wanted,” Akbar said, “chief got.”
Under oath, one former officer says she was tasked with picking up Muhammad’s dry cleaning and groceries. Another ex-officer said under oath that he was called twice by the chief just to remove women from his on-campus home.
Other requests were more troubling.
In affidavits, at least four former officers say that they were asked by superiors to change crime statistics or police reports, or not write them at all.
Meredith recalled an arrest in 2018 when officers responded to an unruly man on the college’s Downriver Campus. Meredith said he had to use force, pulling the man from his vehicle and then handcuffing him.
“I got with the lieutenant and said, ‘I know I need to do a use of force.’ He said, ‘No paperwork. You’re good.’ I said, ‘Lieutenant, I put my hands on him, I need to do a use of force.’ He said, 'Nope, you’re good.' And he designated another officer was going to do the reports,” Meredith said.
But more than a year later, the college was sued by the man Meredith helped arrest, now claiming excessive force.
That’s when Meredith says his supervisors wanted him to write the report he was first told not to more than a year earlier.
“They wanted me to backdate it,” Meredith said. “I told them I couldn’t do it… I got integrity, and there’s no way that I could write a report stating this is what happened when I don’t even have that kind of confidence in, OK, this is what went on.”
Meredith’s claim is backed up in a sworn affidavit, as is Lejeune’s, who said his “supervisors would change and alter reports and tickets.”
“When they came to me and asked me to change a report, what I saw during an incident, I wouldn’t change it,” Lejeune said.
We asked the college to comment on each of allegations we’ve just told you about. Citing pending litigation, they declined. Through a spokeswoman, the college said it “looks forward to its day in court when the truth will be presented and this matter will be resolved.”
They claim the allegations stem from a scheme to extort the college.
Richard Meredith ultimately left the college in 2020. He fears the problems he witnessed firsthand still remain.
“If I could go back in time,” he said, “I would have never left the sheriff’s department to go to the Wayne County Community College Police.”
Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 248-827-9466.