Michael Scipio, the mentally ill black man who was frequently ridiculed on video by white Grosse Pointe Park cops, has been in jail and a psychiatric center since March.
The 56-year-old is accused of breaking into a home in Detroit’s Indian Village just a week after we revealed the videos. But serious questions have surfaced about the investigation and the lone eye witness.
At 11 p.m. on Nov. 21, Callie Sullivan was working at her desk when she heard a loud noise. A intruder had smashed a window in the sunroom and unlocked the door. Sullivan grabbed a hammer and struck the man, prompting him to flee.
At the time, Sullivan, who is white and new to the area, told police that the intruder was black and had a beard. Five weeks passed before Detroit police showed Sullivan a series of photos of different men and asked if she could identify the intruder. She pointed to a 10-year-old photo of Scipio.
“They were using an old and inconsistent photo in a photo identification lineup,” his attorney Victoria McCaskey from McCaskey Law said.
A day before the alleged break-in, Scipio was at a press conference involving the Grosse Pointe cops, and he did not have a beard.
“He was clean-shaven,” said Robert Burton-Harris, an investigator for the law firm.
Fingerprints taken at the scene also didn’t match Scipio’s.
Still, Scipio, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was initially deemed incompetent to stand trail, is facing 20 years in prison on a charge of first-degree home invasion. A special prosecutor was appointed to the case, likely because of the expected media attention that never came.
Scipio’s pro-bono legal team is puzzled by the handling of the case.
The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 11.
Following our stories about Grosse Pointe police humiliating Scipio, five cops were suspended without pay, placed on probation for a year and required to attend sensitivity training.
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.