April 9, 2015

Detroit Police Lieutentant, Officer Charged with Robbery, Extortion, Drug, and Firearm Offenses

A Detroit Police lieutenant and an officer were indicted yesterday on charges of robbing drug dealers and stealing drugs and money obtained in police searches, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today. The indictment was sealed until this morning.

Joining McQuade in the announcement were Special Agent in Charge Paul Abbate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Detroit Division, Chief James E. Craig of the Detroit Police Department and Special Agent in Charge Joseph P. Reagan, Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field Division.

Lieutenant David Hansberry, 34, and Officer Bryan Watson, 46, each were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, multiple counts of interference with commerce by robbery and extortion, possession with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine and two counts of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and drug trafficking crime. A third defendant, Kevlin Omar Brown, 45, was also charged with one count of interference with commerce by robbery and extortion.

According to the indictment, the defendants arranged drug transactions with civilians, including confidential sources, so that they could rob and extort them. The defendants allegedly carried out traffic stops and fake arrests, and then stole drugs, money and personal property from their victims. Hansberry and Watson are charged with using their status as law enforcement officers to assist in their scheme, by driving police vehicles, activating lights on their police vehicles, wearing police-issued attire, displaying official badges and carrying firearms. Hansberry and Watson also allegedly identified themselves as police officers to coerce their victims into complying with their demands and to encourage their victims to flee, leaving behind illegal drugs, money, and personal property. The indictment also alleges that Hansberry and Watson failed to log into evidence money and drugs seized during searches of homes. Instead, they split the proceeds and arranged for the sale of the drugs, sharing the proceeds generated by the sales.

“Officers who violate the law cannot be tolerated because effective law enforcement requires public trust,” McQuade said. “We applaud Chief Craig’s commitment to root out any officers who tarnish the badge.”

“Special Agent in Charge Abbate stated, “Every police officer who would dishonor the badge must know that they will be held accountable under the law. As law enforcement officers, we owe a tremendous duty to the public we serve, and therefore must be held to the highest standards of trust and integrity. The FBI and its law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring that these fundamental principles are fully maintained and enforced without compromise.”

“The vast majority of the men and women of the Detroit Police Department are honest and hard-working, but these defendants betrayed their oath and their fellow officers,” said Chief Craig. “We are committed to the highest standards of integrity, and we will remove any officers who do not live up to those high standards.”

Hansberry and Watson were previously assigned to the now-disbanded Narcotics Section of the Detroit Police Department. Since October 2014, they have been on suspension by the Detroit Police Department.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the by the FBI Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force, in collaboration with the Detroit Police Department’s Office of Internal Affairs and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sheldon Light and Louis P. Gabel.