Detroit Police Officer Larry Jenkins was used to arresting criminal suspects, but on the morning of Oct. 20, 2021, officers were looking for him.
Just after 8 a.m., his estranged girlfriend frantically called police in Toledo, Ohio, saying that her ex-boyfriend was stalking her.
The night before, she said that Jenkins had sent her a text message that showed he was tracking her location. In the morning, she found him sitting in his car outside of her apartment.
When the woman tried to leave, she said Jenkins began to follow her car and, when she attempted to flee, he “purposely rammed into the back of her vehicle with his,” according to a police report.
Officers noted that her rear bumper had sustained damage.
Jenkins, who joined the force in 2018, would be charged with menacing by stalking and criminal damaging. He later pleaded no contest to both.
After serving a 20-day suspension, Jenkins kept his badge and today works at the 3rd precinct.
Since 2016, at least 151 Detroit police officers have faced criminal charges, from assault and battery to drunk driving and bribery, just to name a few.
Like Jenkins, many of the officers remain on the force, either after being convicted by a court or found guilty of departmental charges.
In response to the months-long 7 Action News investigation, police commissioners say it’s evident that holding officers accountable remains a problem within the department.
“It’s shocking,” said Commissioner Willie Bell, a retired Detroit police officer. “That is a significant number of officers.”
“It tells me that we need a stronger city charter,” said Commissioner Ricardo Moore. “It tells me that the union contract might be a little too strong, and that some adjustment needs to be made. “
In January 2019, Clinton Township Police received a domestic violence call from officer Blake McCullough’s wife, who said she’d just been punched with a closed fist.
“He punched me, dead in my face,” she told officers, according to police bodycam video.
“You’ve got a big welt on your face,” an officer noted.
“This isn’t the first time he did this,” she replied.
Officer McCullough, who joined DPD in 2016, admitted to striking his wife in the face, but said it was an accident.
He was placed under arrest and charged with domestic violence. His wife later refused to prosecute, and the case was dropped.
McCullogh was suspended for three days and today, according to Assistant Chief David LeValley, still works for DPD.
Even when officers are punished for domestic violence, they don’t always serve their full punishment.
In 2018, Officer Louis Wilson pleaded guilty to domestic violence after being accused of striking his wife in the face.
His penalty was a 13-day suspension but, through a provision in the union contract, he only served three days and deducted the remaining 10 from his comp time bank.
“Is there room in this department for cops who strike women?” asked 7’s Ross Jones.
“There’s not room for people who show a repeated pattern of conduct that would be violent and aggressive,” LeValley said.
“But the first time, there will be leniency?” Jones asked.
“Like I said, we look at each case individually,” the assistant chief replied.
Since 2016, at least 18 Detroit officers have been charged with domestic violence, including Oleksandr Kucheryavvy.
He was charged last year after an argument with his girlfriend. She told Taylor police that Kucheryavvy “began choking her with both hands around her neck,” then “threw her against the living room coffee table, picked her up again by the throat…lifting her off the floor.”
“She could not breathe,” the police report said, “and felt that she was going to lose consciousness.”
Police documented red markings and bruising, a small laceration on her nose, and broken nails that were bleeding.
She later declined to prosecute but, internally, Kucheryavvy admitted to grabbing the woman “with both of his hands around her throat and choking her,” as well as destroying her front door.
He was given a 10-day suspension but only served five. If he stays out of trouble for a year, he won’t have to serve the rest.
LeValley said the punishment fit the violation.
“It makes sense that he was involved in this one incident, he has a one-week period that, again, his pay and benefits would be withheld,” he said.
But Sarah Rennie, executive director of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, said it’s conduct that shouldn’t be tolerated from those wearing a badge.
“We hold our officers to a higher standard,” she said. “It’s the Detroit Police Department’s job to make sure that the people who are policing the perpetrators aren’t perpetrators themselves.”
Zero Tolerance or 3 Strikes?
In 2018, then-Police Chief James Craig held a press conference announcing the suspension of Officer Willie Fortner after he was charged with four felonies and a misdemeanor.
On an early April morning just after 2 a.m., surveillance video showed Fortner in Greektown grabbing his girlfriend around her neck and pulling her to his vehicle.
A witness later testified that she was upset and crying, saying: “Get off me. I don’t want to go with you,” and that he saw Fortner punch her.
When passersby tried to intervene, according to Wayne County’s prosecutor, Fortner ran to his vehicle, pulled out a gun from his trunk and pointed it in their direction.
Fortner was acquitted of the felonies against him but found guilty of domestic violence.
“What’s the department’s policy for domestic violence, is it zero tolerance?” asked Channel 7’s Ross Jones.
“It is zero tolerance, yes,” he said.
But Fortner wasn’t terminated. Instead, he was suspended for 19 days and remains on the force today. His attorney tells 7 Action News that Fortner denies punching his girlfriend.
“How can a guy who commits domestic violence and then pulls a gun on civilians still have a badge today?” Jones asked LeValley.
“You know, officers sometimes become involved in instances or arguments that escalate to a domestic violence situation,” LeValley said, adding later: “It happened four years ago and our records don’t indicate that he’s been involved in any other instances since.”
Rennie, an advocate for domestic violence survivors, says the punishment represents a double standard.
“How can someone turn around and protect us if they’re willing to engage in that type of behavior?” she asked. “You have strangulation, attempted kidnapping, pulling her into the car, and then brandishing a weapon.
“What is DPD saying by encouraging or allowing that person to stay on the force?” she asked.
Said Detroit Police Commissioner Ricardo Moore: “Situations and scenarios like this (are) the reason why people just don’t trust the police.”
Since 2016, 41 Detroit officers have been charged with an assaultive crime, including Officer Arttez Williams.
In the six years he’s been on the force, he’s been arrested twice after serving a three-day suspension in 2020 for pushing his girlfriend, then throwing her cell phone across the room.
Six months after that, Williams was arrested by Oak Park police and accused of assaulting his girlfriend’s brother.
He punched him in the face with a closed fist, according to a police report, then after a fight ensued, Williams returned with a firearm “pointed at the ground.”
He pled guilty to assault and battery and served a 10-day suspension.
Less than a year later, Oak Park police were called again, this time by the mother of one of Williams’ children who said she was ‘forcefully pushed” from behind by the officer, who then “pulled her hair…from the front.”
Charged with domestic assault, Williams pled down to “disorderly person.” Still employed by DPD, today he is under suspension and faces new discipline.
“Is that an example of zero tolerance, or is that an example of three strikes?” Jones asked LeValley.
“It’s an example of…well, both,” LeValley said.
“Zero tolerance doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lose your job or be terminated because an incident occurred, it means we don’t tolerate it. And by not tolerating it, we administer a penalty through our discipline process," LeValley added.
“I don’t think that one incident necessarily automatically means that you should be excluded or terminated,” LeValley said, adding: “Strangulation is very serious conduct. It doesn’t always tell the entire picture of what happened.”
Detroit Police Commissioner Ricardo Moore sees it differently.
“That does not sound like zero tolerance,” he said. Instead, he said the department’s actions send a message that Williams’ actions amount to “acceptable behavior.”
Moore and his colleagues on the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners are tasked with helping to oversee the 2,500-member department but said they are seldom told when officers are charged with or convicted of criminal behavior.
“It’s very shocking, I wouldn’t have ever imagined there was that many police officers charged with criminal cases,” he said. “How did it get here?”
One of those officers is Robert Crenshaw, who was arrested in November last year when his wife called Sterling Heights police.
After an argument, she said, her husband “followed (her) into the bathroom and began to choke her.” She told police he “put both of his hands around her neck and applied pressure.”
After letting her go, she said Crenshaw grabbed her again “with force,” then “held her over a half wall” and “threatened to throw her down the staircase.”
In the police report, the responding officer noted that “her entire neck was red” while he talked to her, and the “redness did not appear to fade while I was on the scene.”
Crenshaw pled guilty to domestic violence but, because it was his first offense, Officer Crenshaw will not be terminated, according to Assistant Chief David LeValley. The presumptive penalty is a 20-day suspension.
Terminated & Brought Back
In July of 2018 at Detroit’s Greektown Casino, surveillance video was rolling when officers responded to a call of unruly patrons inside the casino’s parking garage.
The scene was about to turn violent.
But the first punch wasn’t thrown by a civilian, but by Sgt. Raytheon Martin, a veteran of the department.
Repeatedly, Martin struck Gregory Price in the head.
“He said, it’s time for you to get the F on,” Price would later testify. “I’m looking at the officers like, you going to keep letting him attack me? And he kept striking.”
Sgt. Martin would plead no contest to aggravated assault and willful neglect of duty. His attorney said his client was dealing with unruly patrons who’d been asked to leave the casino and that he accepted responsibility for his mistakes.
Through a deal with the Wayne County Prosecutor, he was required to serve one year on probation, complete anger management and not work as a street officer for a full year. He did.
And then, he returned to the department.
Disciplinary records show DPD moved to terminate Martin after he made false statements during the investigation, but an arbitrator brought him back.
Raytheon Martin would remain on the force until this summer, when DPD said his certification as an officer lapsed.
Of the 41 officers charged with assaultive crimes since 2016, at least two were accused of hurting children.
Officer Robert Brown received a 45-day suspension for hitting his girlfriend’s 3-year-old grandson so hard in the face, he left a bruise, still visible four days later.
Brown told Macomb County Sheriff’s deputies it was discipline that went “overboard.”
The criminal case against him did not proceed but the department handed down a month-and-a-half long suspension, in part, because Brown’s disciplinary history is so lengthy: a full page-and-a-half.
Most of his discipline was hidden from view because the city keeps discipline older than 4 years secret.
Officers Stephen Heid and Ronald Cadez were both on duty on a night in October 2017 when a Silver Pontiac Grand Prix got their attention.
The vehicle was being driven by 19-year-old Jerry Bradford, and the officers began to follow it.
Shortly after they did, Bradford took off.
“There were two officers that tried to conduct a traffic stop and there was…no written justification for why they wanted to conduct that stop in the first place,” said Arius Webb, one of Bradford’s relatives.
Detroit police policy only allows vehicle chases if a suspect is wanted for a violent felony. Bradford wasn’t, but officers chased him anyway at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour.
35 seconds in, Bradford’s vehicle crashed. But instead of rendering aid, dashcam video shows the officers stopped, turned off their overhead lights and turned left.
They would circle for more than three minutes and, at one point, appeared to push their dash camera straight up.
Eventually, Heid and Cadez would pull up to the crash site, where Bradford was later pronounced dead.
“I can only assume that the officers suspected they were in trouble and were trying to cover it up,” Webb said.
Wayne County’s prosecutor agreed and charged both officers, who later pleaded no contest to willful neglect of duty. They served no jail time.
In disciplinary hearings, Heid and Cadez pled guilty to four departmental charges, including failing to respond to an accident and rendering aid.
“They call it a slap on the wrist, I don’t even know if it’s a slap on the wrist,” Webb said. “I think that the end of the day, they had to pay a $500 fine and then they put their badge back on and now maybe they’re still out there today.”
Assistant Chief LeValley said the department initially tried to fire Cadez and Heid, but the police union intervened, arguing that while the officers made mistakes, they should not be terminated.
They weren’t and they remain on the force today.
“Their responsibility, their job is to respond to crimes,” Webb said. “It should be taken very seriously that there is a list of officers—ever-growing—who are also responsible for crimes.”
This investigation was reported and produced by Ross Jones. Video reports were edited by Randy Lundquist. Photographers Ramon Rosario, Johnny Sartin and John Ciolino contributed to this report. Max White edited digital reports. Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org