Detroit Cops Face New Accusations of Police Brutality

In the wake of a patron's federal lawsuit, new cases have surfaced with similar allegations of Detroit police officers roughing up patrons at MGM Grand Detroit casino.


Moncrief said he spent three days in jail without medical treatment for broken ribs and other injuries before the charges were dropped.

The suit identified the officers as William Brewster and John Appling.

Appling, along with Officer Paul Johnson, is also named in a Wayne County Circuit Court case filed Tuesday, alleging the officers used excessive force against Barque McAllister at MGM in March.

David Robinson, McAllister's attorney, said his client rented a space within the lounge of a casino club. He said McAllister had a dispute with the club, and management called police. According to the lawsuit, the officers assaulted and arrested McAllister. He was charged with defrauding an innkeeper and was later exonerated at trial, the suit says.

Appling also was named in the now-settled case of Gary Ringer, who said he is a Detroit firefighter.

According to court documents, Ringer was at MGM in June 2009 and went to the food court, where two casino security guards told him it was closed.

After Ringer asked to speak to a manager, the lawsuit says, Appling approached and asked him to leave the casino. The lawsuit alleged Appling put his hands on Ringer as he was escorting him to the exit. The lawsuit claims that after Ringer shrugged off his grip and asked not to be touched, the officer punched Ringer in the face and other officers tackled and assaulted him.

In an October 2010 deposition, Appling said he stepped in when Ringer was arguing with casino security. Appling testified that as officers escorted him out, Ringer stopped and began to talk again, so Appling motioned with his hands for Ringer to keep walking. Appling said that's when Ringer swatted his hand away and had a stance that appeared he was going to fight.

Appling -- who at the time said he had worked under the department's gaming division since 1999 -- testified he gave Ringer an "open hand push to the face to distract him" as officers took him down.

Attempts by the Free Press to reach Appling were unsuccessful.

Ringer said he pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge. The city recently settled the lawsuit for $33,000, Ringer's attorney Ben Gonek said.

A little force is normal

As a general rule, police officers are taught to use slightly more force than needed to maintain control of situations, said Dennis Jay Kenney, a former police officer and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

When a person is verbally resistant to police, Kenney said, officers are taught to engage the person in conversation first. But, he said, officers are often making decisions under stress -- and fear is a major factor.

"Guys who resist the police are dangerous," Kenney said. "You can get hurt."

Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, which pushed for the federally mandated reforms, said officers are routinely confrontational with citizens.

"It's not individual officers, it's the culture," he said, adding that he believes the culture comes from mid-level management.

Contact Gina Damron: 313-223-4526 or gdamron@freepress.com

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