Justice Department to sign pact with Grosse Pointe Park over video scandal

A solemn Michael Scipio looked on at a press conference. (Steve Neavling)

Four months after we revealed videos of Grosse Pointe Park cops humiliating a mentally impaired black man, the city expects to reach a reform agreement today with the U.S. Department of Justice and several civil rights groups.

The victim, Michael Scipio, who has a speech impediment, said police told him he was being recorded for a future music contract. But text messages obtained by Motor City Muckraker show police often poked fun at him and circulated the videos via cell phones.

“Working together, the agencies will help the city train police officers in the latest strategies in community policing,” Grosse Pointe Park wrote in a statement. “In addition, the city is signing a resolution reaffirming its commitment to diversity, human and civil rights.”

After we showed the videos to city officials, they responded immediately, conducted an internal investigation and hired public relations expert Greg Bowens.

Five police officers were suspended without pay, placed on probation for a year and required to attend sensitivity training. At the time, police would only say the suspensions ranged from one to 60 days.

Today’s agreement would require police to undergo training in community policing and diversity. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights also is expected to endorse the plan.

The video scandal shocked many in Grosse Pointe Park, a growingly diverse and progressive community that still suffers occasional setbacks from an ugly past that included barring black people from owning property up until the early 1960s.

Some residents responded by setting up a panel discussion on race relations at 7 p.m. March 20 at the Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church. WDET’s Craig Fahle is moderating.


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.

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