The Detroit Police Department caught one of its own officers in a stolen Dodge Challenger this past Sunday. The off-duty officer was riding passenger in the stolen car when the police attempted a traffic stop, according to Deadline Detroit. The stolen car tried to escape from police, and a brief pursuit ensued. The pursuit ended when the stolen car collided with another car.
After the collision, the officer escaped on foot but was arrested later, after police identified him using body camera footage. Again, the officer, who also happens to be a two-year veteran of the force, was one of two people in the stolen Dodge Challenger.
The other individual managed to evade the police and is currently at large, per the Detroit News. That report cites Assistant Police Chief David LeValley, whose statement was posted on the DPD’s FaceBook page.
Police took the off-duty officer to the Detroit Detention Center where he remained until his release on Tuesday. The officer was suspended with pay, as the Detroit News details. Now, it’s likely that Chief of Police James White will push to change that to an unpaid suspension, but it’s pending an investigation by Internal Affairs.
Now that the IA has taken over the case, its investigators will likely try to charge the officer with resisting and obstructing. That’s a felony punishable by up to two years in prison, per the Detroit News.
Assistant Police Chief LeValley said that the Dodge Challenger was initially reported stolen in Ohio months ago, and it was being driven in the state of Michigan after being retagged under a different VIN, which belonged to a Dodge Charger. Whether the officer had anything to do with the theft is unknown.
This is yet another incident involving Detroit police officers and stolen cars, which follows after a number of incidents spanning back to the mid- through late-teens. The FBI investigated the DPD in 2016, and multiple officers were suspended and later charged with crimes having to do with stolen cars and the city’s towing procedures.
The DPD officers were taking bribes on a per-car basis, as the Detroit Free Press reported:
The FBI probe, sources said, involves allegations that police officers took bribes from collision shops and towing companies who paid the officers money in exchange for giving them work when they found stolen vehicles. One source said the going bribe rate in such deals is $500 — that’s how much a collision shop pays a police officer who convinced the owner of a stolen car to send their car to a particular collision shop.
Details of this latest arrest are still sparse because the investigation is ongoing, but I’ve reached out to the DPD for a statement and will provide any updates as I get them.