Two suspended Detroit cops who are accused of stealing drugs, money and property during warrantless raids and bogus arrests were indicted Wednesday and face up 20 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors allege that Lt. David Hansberry and Officer Bryan Watson embarked on a four-year crime spree that targeted innocent people, alleged drug dealers and marijuana dispensaries. They are accused of threatening people with arrest and then stealing anything of value.
The pair belonged to a now-disbanded narcotics unit and used their authority to intimidate marijuana dispensary owners, storming in with guns and pocketing the money, cannabis, surveillance equipment and paraphernalia, according to the indictment.
Also under investigation was Detective James Napier, 35, who fatally shot himself in front of his parent’s home in January.
Last year, Police Chief James Craig would only say that the narcotics unit was suspended after members were caught removing property during a drug raid and failing to log it as evidence. But Motor City Muckraker revealed in August that the allegations were much more serious and involved the FBI.
According to the feds, the cops would “identify themselves as law enforcement officers performing official law enforcement duties in order to coerce their victims into complying with their demands and to encourage their victims to flee, leaving behind their controlled substances, money or personal property.”
Craig said today that the allegations shouldn’t reflect poorly on the many hard-working officers who bravely and honorably perform their duties.
“The vast majority of the men and women of the Detroit Police Department are honest and hard-working, but these defendants betrayed their oath and their fellow officers,” Craig said. “We are committed to the highest standards of integrity, and we will remove any officers who do not live up to those high standards.”
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.