Feds: 2 Detroit cops terrorized dealers and dispensaries, stealing money, drugs for years

Detroit police

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

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.

  • 1Joshua

    Same old DPD, going back even before the infamous Little Black Book in Greektown.

  • Nick Nightmare

    Its about time. A few years back I was renting in Southwest Detroit, and the police raided the wrong house. They confiscated my legal collection of firearms, my laptop, television, my student loan refund, charged me with absolutely nothing, refused to show me paperwork, and laughed at me when I asked them where I could pick my things up from. I’m not a drug dealer or a criminal. I was just a kid going to school, trying to rent a house that wasn’t ridiculously expensive. I spent 3 hours handcuffed on my own kitchen floor while they rifled through my life, looking for valuables to steal. They slapped me around, it was brutal and completely dehumanizing.

    Do you know what my method of recourse was? Nothing. They had no record of any of this, and my collection of heirloom firearms, some dating back to the civil war. The real kicker? I found one of these same police officers selling one of my guns (I still had the serial number!) on Armslist.

    Thanks a lot Detroit Police Department, it only took you 9 years.

    Do you think I can have my things back now? : /

    • bebow

      Strictly speculating, I’d guess the dopeman thought you might be trouble or competition, so, he called in his DPD associates in an effort to force you out of his neighborhood. The DPD hasn’t acted for the benefit of the community on narcotics-trafficking complaints since 2006.

      • Nick Nightmare

        I’ve wished since that day that I could get some answers from someone, but was stonewalled every step of the way. I finally gave up and moved back out of the city.

        I reckoned if the police were really that bad, I should get out before I needed them to help me, instead of helping themselves (to my things).

        • bebow

          You will soon have your answers.

    • Bluelionman England

      Maybe if local police is corrupt you should of contacted the Feds direct or you congressman – sorry if I sound dumb but I live in UK and if Police was acting like you said here then next course of action here would be CIB – the Police who Police the Police here, the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commision) and / or my local MP (Member of Parliment) for my area = equivilant I guess is your area’s/states congress person.

      • Nick Nightmare

        The police look after themselves here, and when you look like I used to look when I was a very young man, your odds of getting anything more than targeted for future police harassment here is pretty low.

    • Daniel David

      Have you contacted an attorney about this, man? That’s pretty serious. Any idea what the officers names were? My close family member is pretty high up in the DPD and a very decent human, I’m sure he’d like to know about this if it’s true.

      • Nick Nightmare

        This was long, long ago, back in… 2003 or 2004. None of the officers would identify themselves, and I got stomped pretty badly when I asked for badge numbers (I was already handcuffed on the floor). They all had ski masks, or other types of head wear that more or less covered their faces. The only thing I recall at this point is two of them having chrome shotguns, with pistol grips.

        If you can help, I’d be more than receptive. I was a very young man at the time, and after being stonewalled when I tried to make a complaint, I finally gave it up. Now with a decades worth of wisdom under my belt, perhaps it is worth another shot.

        In any case, thanks for caring dude.

        • Daniel David

          I don’t know if it’s possible to PM me on this, but you can find me on FB with the same name. If you can send me the address that this happened at and the date (preferably very specifically, including time), I can see if my “connect” can find out who was dispatched to that address, or nearby, at that date and time. Any and all relevant information would help.

          I’d hopefully at least be able to get you some names of the officers involved. You could start from there. I’d be happy to do it. We can’t allow shit like that to go on… plus fuckin’ heirlooms, man. That’s bullshit. If they just took your xbox, I probably wouldn’t want to get involved but heirlooms and student loan refund? Fuck them.

          • Nick Nightmare

            Hey, you around? Hit me up

        • Daniel David

          Message me on FB asap, because I’d like to delete that comment as soon as I can.

          • Nick Nightmare

            Sorry bud, I don’t have a facebook.

  • bebow

    The problem is much larger than 3 rogue officers.

  • Sad. Things like this severely undermine the police departments credibility and their ability to do their jobs. I haven’t read much about Chief Craig but know that when living in Cincinnati he seemed to have made some progress in cleaning things up – or at least that’s what I was told.

    Bottom line – If you can’t trust the police, who can you trust? Have to hope that less of this happens with Detroit “on the way up.”

    • bebow

      Trust? Think long and hard before calling 224-DOPE.