The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has filed a complaint demanding the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate 20 instances of cruelty, brutality and racist practices within Taylor Police Department.
In a news conference Thursday, the ACLU detailed over a dozen instances of excessive force.
ACLU of Michigan staff attorney Mark Fancher says most of the incidents were caught on camera.
“We have observed these officers administer beatings destroy property and use disfavored if not illegal methods such as chokeholds and tasers to force compliance,” says Fancher.
The civil rights group isn’t “after blood,” according to Fancher. “We’re after a police department that’s responsible and which treats the residents of the community and visitors to that community in a manner that respects their civil and human rights.”
In August, Wayne County prosecutors charged Taylor police officer Tyler Peake with assault and misconduct in office after attacking a man who had his hands up during a traffic stop.
Fancher says one of the problems is that the city’s police department doesn’t match the community, which is 16% Black, according to the U.S. Census. “It speaks volumes that in the entire history of the Taylor Police Department, they didn’t hire their first black officer until 2012,” says Fancher.
The Taylor Police Department allegedly blackmails victims of police brutality by offering to drop any charges if the victims agree to not file civil rights lawsuits, he says.
“They need to deal with people like human beings instead of just somebody they automatically assumed as committing a crime.” — Dale Bryant
In another instance, Dale Bryant, who is disabled and got a German Shepherd puppy as a service dog, called the Taylor Police Department for help last year when the dog, King, got its leg caught in a cage. Bryant says an officer freed the pup but didn’t give the dog back.
The police kept King, charged Bryant with animal cruelty and then fined him over $2,000, the price of the dog’s time in an animal shelter.
Bryant just wants police to treat people with respect.
“They need to deal with people like human beings instead of just somebody they automatically assumed as committing a crime,” Bryant says.
It’s unclear whether the DOJ will investigate.
There was no immediate response to a request for comment from Taylor, which has a population of 63,000.
Council member Butch Ramik, a retired Taylor police officer, says he has raised his own concerns about excessive force.
“Anybody has a right to come in and investigate something. If things aren’t getting fixed, then somebody has to do it,” Ramik told The Detroit News.
That’s not the only scandal roiling the Downriver community. Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars is accused by federal prosecutors of accepting bribes and other misconduct.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.