NewsLocal NewsInvestigations

Warren officials kept criminal charges, $400k settlement against 2 cops quiet

Commissioner Bill Dwyer, fired Tuesday, denied any effort to keep the case a secret
Posted at 5:42 PM, Mar 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-09 18:58:27-05

WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — A month after high-profile charges were levied against a Warren police officer seen punching a jail inmate, two more Warren cops were accused of assault.

But the resulting criminal charges, along with a rushed $400,000 settlement, were kept quiet by Warren officials for six months until they were both discovered by 7 Action News.

“We have a prosecutor and police commissioner who are not camera shy,” said Warren city council member Mindy Moore. “And I’m a little surprised that neither of them issued a press release or made a public statement.”

The revelations of the rough arrest, charges and settlement coincide with the recent terminations of city attorney Ethan Vinson and police commissioner Bill Dwyer.

In June, the assault charges against officer Matthew Rodriguez brought a black eye to the Warren Police Department.

RELATED: Warren police officer charged in assault on suspect in custody

Prosecutors said that Rodriguez was seen repeatedly assaulting Jaquwan Smithwithout justification, “striking him in the head with enough force to cause the victim to stumble backwards.”

Video later showed him shoving Smith's head against the wall, then throwing him to the floor. Later, Rodriguez was again seen punching him in the head.

First charged by the Macomb County prosecutor, the case was taken over by U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison who accused Rodriguez of violating the jail prisoner’s civil rights.

“It is my hope that the public does not associate every Warren police officer with the embarrassing actions of Matthew Rodriguez,” Commissioner Dwyer said at a press conference on July 10.

But just ten days later, two more officers would conduct a traffic stop that prosecutors concluded was criminal.

A brutal arrest, a fast settlement

7 Action News discovered the alleged misconduct after filing a Freedom of Information Act request in January, seeking all police lawsuit settlements since 2018.

Records obtained revealed that the largest payout occurred on August 23, 2023
when the city agreed to pay $400,000 to a man for what was listed as a “false arrest” claim.

The man, who asked not to be name because he says is a victim of abuse, received the payment without even filing a lawsuit again the city, a step that attorneys say is highly unusual.

Even more remarkable is that the settlement was paid out only 33 days following his arrest.

“I’ve never had a single case resolve this quick, ever in my career," said attorney James Harrington, currently suing the city over Jaquwan Smith's arrest.

But for a case the city was in a hurry to settle, no one was in a hurry to talk about

Former Mayor Jim Fouts, who was in office at the time of the settlement, told 7 Action News he didn’t remember the case.

His replacement, Mayor Lori Stone, wouldn’t return repeated calls. The city council, who approved the settlement, said they were barred from talking about the details because it was discussed in closed session.

On Friday, a day after the report, Stone released a statement saying she only found out about the incident recently because of the media's interest.

Her statement read in part, "This administration will continue to take steps to ensure that the Warren Police Department, under its new leadership, stays at the forefront of recruiting and training so its new employees uphold the highest expectations and integrity as they are doing their best work serving our great city."

The city denied WXYZ-TV’s public records request seeking all allegations of misconduct involving the arrest, saying none existed.

Even if they did, the city said, they would have been exempt from disclosure and would not be supplied.

Records obtained by 7 Action News revealed that officers Dammeon Player and Carlos Taylor were both charged in August by Macomb County Prosecutor Pete Lucido.

Body camera video obtained by 7 Action News through sources shows the officers approaching the driver as he sat parked in his semi-truck on a rainy day in Centerline, outside of their jurisdiction.

The man, who does not appear to speak English as his primary language, steps out of his truck before being taken to the ground by one officer, then tased by another.

The man can be heard screaming in pain as he is tased multiple times.

It is not clear why the force was used, or why the man was tased.

Sources tell 7 Action News that when attorneys for the city saw the body cam, they were alarmed by the officers’ conduct.

Officer Player was charged with felonious assault, a 4-year felony, along with the misdemeanor charge of public official-willful failure to uphold the law.

Officer Taylor was charge with assault and battery and public official-willful failure to uphold the law.

But despite the charges being issued, even Macomb County’s prosecutor kept them quiet.

Prosecutor Pete Lucido issued 13 press releases about people he charged in August, but none about this case.

After asked why by 7 Action News, his office said that the press release was written but, by accident, was never sent out. The prosecutor's office posted it to their website last week, six months after charges were brought.

Dwyer ducks questions

7 Action News first contacted Commissioner Bill Dwyer about this arrest in early February.

He did not agree to an on-camera interview about the charges against his officers, so we caught up with him at a ceremony inside city hall.

"You say this is a transparent police department. Why did you keep this a secret?”
asked Channel 7’s Ross Jones.

“I’ll speak to that issue on Monday,” Dwyer said, walking away from our questions.

“How is it that two police officers can be criminally charged, can be fired and the city is forced to pay $400,000 and nobody talks about it?” Jones asked.

“Ask me that question Monday,” Dwyer said, promising to sit down with 7 Action News in three days.

He never did.

Instead, Dwyer issued a statement saying he had nothing to do with the lawsuit settlement, that the arrest was investigated by the Macomb County Sheriff and that he fired the officers after misconduct was found.

He did not say why he kept the charges quiet.

The next day after issuing the statement, Dwyer himself was fired by Mayor Lori Stone.

Former officers Player and Taylor are next due in court on March 13.

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at or at (248) 827-9466.