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