DETROIT (WXYZ) - Action News Investigators have learned about the troubled past of a high-ranking police officer. They’re sworn to protect and serve, but what do you do when you need protection from an officer?
The story begins on a Wednesday in November 2007 just after 10:00 p.m.
At Flood’s Bar in Downtown Detroit, it was business as usual. Drinks were flowing, live music was playing, and the night was just getting started.
It was around that time that one woman, who asked not to be identified and who we’ll call Emily, showed up with her cousin to celebrate passing a college exam. And it didn’t take long before she recognized an off-duty Detroit police sergeant.
"She was speaking with someone that I knew, my cousin," said Emily.
The sergeant was LaNesha Jones, an 11-year veteran of the department who worked homicide for DPD. As long as they’ve known each other, both she and Emily admit they’ve never liked one another.
"I’ve never put my hands on her, ever. Only had words with her," said Emily.
And on that night in November, the two had even more words. But this time, it was different.
Standing near the bar, things got tense. The women argued, and suddenly, wielding a glass like this, the off-duty Sergeant struck Emily in the head, knocking her to the floor. Emily said the sergeant ground the glass pieces into her head.
When it was all over, the sergeant had left deep lacerations in the head of her victim. One witness would later tell officers she saw “blood running down everywhere,” and that she could “see the bone” exposed in Emily’s head. It would take 20 stitches to close the wounds.
"I never saw it coming..I couldn’t see. (There) was blood all in my eyes and my face," Emily said.
Sgt. Jones was taken to the Central District where she was booked. She would later say that she hit Emily out of self defense—that Emily was about to swing at her, but that’s not reflected by statements taken by Detroit Police that night. DPD suspended Jones—and later fired her—and it wasn’t long before Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged her with felonious and aggravated assault. Eventually, the Sgt. would plead no contest to aggravated assault, a misdemeanor. She was sentenced to one year of probation, and a course in anger management. She served no time in jail.
"She didn’t get the charge that she deserved. She got away with something," said Emily, who says Jones should have been convicted of a felony.
So imagine Emily’s surprise when she learned the same officer that Detroit Police didn’t want, wound up in Highland Park, first as an inspector. And just a few weeks ago: named Deputy Chief.
"It’s almost like she really got away with it. And that’s why she did it in the first place, ‘cause she knew she would," said Emily.
It’s not just Emily who’s upset over Jones’s promotion to deputy chief. A Highland Park police officer agreed to speak with Action News under the condition of anonymity, fearing retribution.
"It’s a morale killer. We need something in that department to boost morale, not something like that," he said.
"You’re supposed to be living an exemplary life, you’re supposed to be taking care of your business. And you know, going out and beating people, losing your temper, your control…is not something you would do as an officer," said the officer.
Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp admits he didn’t know his deputy chief had been charged with a felony until we informed him, and says he’ll look into the case details. But regardless, he stands by his decision to promote Jones to deputy chief, adding that citizens have called her “highly professional,” and a great officer, and that she’s still certified by the state as a police officer.
"This isn’t just a slap across the face in the bar," said Channel 7's Heather Catallo.
"This isn’t assault and battery. She hit someone over the head with a glass and ground the glass into the woman’s forehead. She still has the scars. You’ve seen the pictures. This was a serious assault," she said.
"I don’t have all of the facts of the case, so I can’t comment on that," responded Yopp.
"If I had the case file before me or had previously viewed the case file, I may have different comments. But this officer’s done a great job, she’s doing a great job," he said.
When Jones refused an on-camera interview with Action News, we caught up with her stepping into her department vehicle. She refused comment.
"After she did what she did to me, she turned around and got another position, and even a higher position, and she’s still wearing a gun," said Emily.
"So she feels as though she’s empowered, because she got away with it with me, and she can do it again."
Deputy Chief Jones is suing the City of Detroit, saying she was unfairly dismissed when the Detroit Police Trial Board voted unanimously to remove her from the department. We should also tell you that Emily sued Deputy Chief Jones civilly, and received an out of court settlement for $7,000.
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Copyright (c) 2010 The E.W. Scripps Company
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