Report: Detroit Councilman let off despite alcohol, pot in car

George Cushingberry

DETROIT - Detroit Police Chief James Craig has ordered an internal investigation of a police supervisor who did not arrest a City Council leader, despite officers apparently finding marijuana and an open bottle of alcohol in his vehicle during a late night traffic stop, reports CBS Detroit.

The incident happened around 10 p.m. Tuesday, as City Council President Pro Tem George Cushingberry was leaving a strip club, according to the station. Craig said officers initiated a traffic stop after observing a vehicle make a turn without using a turn signal, just south of I-96 on the city’s west side.

Once the officers approached the vehicle, Craig said they realized who they were dealing with.

“Upon learning they had stopped a council person, they notified a supervisor and the supervisor made a decision that the councilman would be cited and released,” Craig said. “He was not arrested.”

Although police made no mention of it in a statement to the media, reports indicate the officers actually tried to pull Cushingberry over after his vehicle almost struck a police cruiser. Cushingberry allegedly ignored their sirens and a chase ensued. A second squad car was reportedly called in to help with the chase. When Cushingberry was finally stopped, officers apparently spotted an open alcohol container and smelled marijuana, reports the station. Still, it was the supervisor’s final call that Cushingberry be issued a citation, instead of being taken into custody.

After reviewing the situation, Craig said he decided to open an investigation into the actions of the supervisor, who let Cushingberry go instead of placing him under arrest.

“Based on our initial review of the circumstances, we’ve initiated an internal investigation against a member of the police department, a supervisor. And so right now, that case is still continuing,” he said. “The councilman was cited and released, that’s over. Done.”

Cushingberry, who was elected president pro-tem Monday by the newly seated council, told reporters that he doesn’t feel like he did anything wrong. He said the bottle of rum in his backseat was empty and old, and while there was a strong smell of marijuana in the air, it was his passenger’s, who has a medical marijuana card. Cushingberry, an African-American, went on to say that he’s a victim of racial profiling, targeted by two white officers, according to the station.

Craig declined to comment on the issue.

“I have no comment about the city council and in terms of the allegations, there is an investigation against a member of our department and that’s where it stays,” he reportedly said.

Sgt. Michael Woody told the Detroit Free Press the internal investigation might produce criminal charges. The supervisor under investigation was not identified.