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Detroit police lieutenant suspended over confrontation with protestors during Biden's visit

Detroit police investigate complaints during President Biden speech response
Detroit police investigate complaints during President Biden speech response 03:36

(CBS DETROIT) - A Detroit police lieutenant has been suspended after exchanging words with protestors during President Biden's visit on Sunday.

Protesters gathered outside of Huntington Place to speak out against what they argue is the U.S. government's involvement in the Israel-Hamas war. Mr. Biden was in Detroit attending an NAACP event during the demonstration.

In a news conference on Monday, Police Chief James said an investigation was underway after receiving a video of a confrontation between Lt. Brandon Cole and protestors. The Detroit Police Department played the video, which showed the lieutenant saying to a woman, "Why don't you just go back to Mexico?" Preliminary findings showed the lieutenant was referring to a trip that he saw on the protestor's social media accounts that she had recently taken and was suggesting that she should go back on vacation.

In response, Cole was initially placed on paid leave amid further investigation.

On Wednesday, Police Chief James White said that he received additional information about the incident, which led to his decision to suspend Cole. White said he will also request that the Board of Police Commissioners withhold Cole's pay.

"Today, I was briefed on additional facts that have surfaced, including, but not limited to, information that the personal statements toward Lieutenant Cole were not made by the protestor in question but by another individual in close proximity, who has yet to be identified," White said in a statement posted on social media. "Having considered the new information, my concerns over the events of May 19 have worsened."

Following the protest, some called out the DPD for how they said they were treated.

White said they will examine the DPD's policies and training and determine what changes would be made.

"Despite the hard work of the officers at the event, the recent protest was one of the larger ones we have had to deal with over the past couple of years, which has revealed deficiencies in the operations of the unit," he said.

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