Detroit police commissioner who was arrested at meeting won't be charged

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Detroit police yank police commissioner Willie Burton from his seat. - TWITTER/ALAN CAMPBELL
  • Twitter/Alan Campbell
  • Detroit police yank police commissioner Willie Burton from his seat.

Detroit Police Commissioner Willie Burton won’t face charges for disorderly conduct after he was arrested last week at a public meeting.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he made the decision not to pursue charges “after consulting several people, including board members.”



Still, Craig defended the arrest during a raucous meeting. “The arrest was legal, and I’m not criticizing my officers,” Craig told The Detroit News. “But after weighing the totality of the circumstances, I thought it best to drop the charges in order to maintain a harmonious relationship with the board and the people who elected (Burton).”

Burton was arrested after board chairwoman Lisa Carter told police to remove the commissioner for allegedly interrupting the meeting. Police yanked him out of his seat at the board table, causing him to fall to the ground. Protesters yelled at police for forcibly removing an elected official who has repeatedly questioned the board for holding illegally closed-door meetings and supporting facial recognition technology.



In the past, the commission has cut off Burton's microphone for criticizing the board's lack of transparency.

"Grassroots Detroit was outraged at what happened to Commissioner Burton, and I think Chief Craig understands that," Sam Riddle, a human-rights activist and radio host, told the News.

Burton’s attorney, former Wayne County executive Robert Ficano, called the arrest an “overreach” in an interview with the News.

"He’s a public official who was simply representing his constituents," Ficano said. "There are other things the board could've done, including cutting off his microphone, or asking for a recess. Having him arrested was an overreach."

Detroit police have been using facial recognition technology for two years without the required approval of the police commission.

The commission is expected to approve the use of the technology at 3 p.m. Thursday. Metro Times will cover the meeting. Protesters are expected to show up wearing face masks.

Last month, police decided not to pursue charges against graffiti artist Sheefy McFly, who was arrested for painting a mural commissioned by the city.


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