2 from Detroit police accused of robbing drug dealers
DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit police lieutenant and an officer robbed drug dealers and stole drugs and money obtained in police searches, prosecutors said Thursday.
An indictment against Lt. David Hansberry, 34, and Officer Bryan Watson, 46, was unsealed Thursday, according to the U.S. attorney's office. They have been suspended since October and were previously assigned to the department's now-disbanded Narcotics Section.
They face charges including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, cocaine possession and multiple counts of interference with commerce by robbery and extortion.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, police Chief James Craig said he was "troubled" by the allegations and said they affect the public's trust in his department.
"The vast majority of the men and women of the Detroit Police Department are honest and hard-working, they honor the badge they wear and the oath they took to serve and protect the citizens of this city," Craig said. He said four other former narcotics officers remain suspended with pay until the investigation is complete.
Detroit police have been cooperating with the investigation, said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.
"Officers who violate the law cannot be tolerated because effective law enforcement requires public trust," McQuade said in a statement. "We applaud Chief Craig's commitment to root out any officers who tarnish the badge."
Hansberry and Watson made court appearances Thursday afternoon.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub entered not guilty pleas for them and ordered them not to possess firearms while out on bond.
Hansberry is "confident he'll be vindicated," his lawyer, Michael Harrison, told the Detroit Free Press.
Watson's lawyer, Steven Fishman, said a similar case in Detroit 10 years ago ended up with the acquittal of all the officers charged.
"Sometimes history repeats itself," Fishman said.
A third man, Kevlin Brown, 45, also is charged. He returns to court Friday so he can get a lawyer.