5 Grosse Pointe Park cops suspended in wake of video scandal

Five Grosse Pointe Park cops have been suspended without pay and are required to attend sensitivity training after an internal investigation found they captured or circulated humiliating videos of a poor black man with disabilities, city officials announced today.

“The existence of the videos shows to me that we need to do a better job,” David Hiller, Grosse Pointe Park public safety chief, said. “Our pride has been tarnished, and we need to make some changes.”

Hiller declined to divulge the lengths of the suspensions but said they may range from one to 60 days.

The top brass also is reassigning supervising officers, training cops to deal with people with mental illnesses and increasing cultural sensitivity and awareness.

The investigation was launched after the Motor City Muckraker revealed videos in which at least one officer ordered the victim, Michael Scipio, to sing and dance. We have stopped circulating the videos at the request of the victim’s potential legal team and to prevent Scipio from being further humiliated.

Police declined to release the names of the officers involved.

The 2 p.m. press conference was held at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, where Scipio regularly attends Sunday mass.

Civil rights leaders, who said they were not invited to the press conference, said the suspensions were inadequate.

“Someone needs to be fired,” Malik Shabazz, founder of the New Marcus Garvey Movement, said. “We need to see how far down the rabbit hole this goes.”

Grosse Pointe Park City Manager, Dale Krajniak, said lessons have been learned.

“The real issue here is, we all make mistakes” Krajniak said. “We learn from those mistakes and move forward.”

Mayor Palmer Heenan said he supports the chief’s decisions in the wake of the scandal.

“I applaud Chief Hiller for holding the officers responsible for this incident accountable for their actions, Heenan said. “I am optimistic the steps he is taking to prevent this type of thing from happening in the future will be successful. We are all saddened by this incident and offer our sincere and deepest apologies to Mr. Sipio. We will learn from this and move forward.”

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Robert M. McAdam

    The police officers should be fired and tried for violating the civil rights of the men detained. But first they must be identified.

  • bebow

    I can hear them snickering.

  • Tracey

    “Hiller declined to divulge the lengths of the suspensions but said they may range from one to 60 days. He also wouldn’t say whether the suspensions are with pay. The top brass also is reassigning supervising officers, training cops to deal with people with mental illnesses and increasing cultural sensitivity and awareness…Police declined to release the names of the officers involved.”

    I’m glad something’s being done to address this horrible incident, but why does this feel like a bit of a letdown? All the declining to divulge just feels like something like this could happen again, only more underground. I sure hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t know….

    • thevillagemalcontent

      I think they learned their lessons. They won’t be feeding that guy or giving him rides any more and that should stop the opportunity to act like fools. Don’t know what will happen when he starts to act up in that church. Maybe his caretakers can take care of him.

      • Tracey

        Have they? I’m hoping that the sensitivity training and work to learn how to deal with mental illness issues really takes. My fear is that, by not divulging names, the type of suspensions, or the names of the officers, these actions will be viewed by GPP police as riding out the bad press until no one is paying attention again and things can fall back into the same patterns again. This goes beyond giving this guy rides or something to eat. It’s about dealing with a lack of understanding of and respect for those who are really in need of extra care. To me, keeping things quiet doesn’t seem to say to the community that a true effort towards improvement is underway. I sure hope I’m wrong about this.

        • thevillagemalcontent

          Police aren’t trained to deal with mental illness on a protracted basis and they should not even try.