DETROIT (WXYZ) — Two commissioners responsible for overseeing the Detroit Police Department say the city is failing to police some of its most troubled officers.
Their comments come in response to a 7 Action News investigation into Sergeant Stephen Kue, an officer with a lengthy history of misconduct allegations.
Willie Bell, a longtime member of the board, said he was “totally shocked” that the department “would tolerate” the 85 complaints filed against Kue since 2009—more than ten times the department average.
“Until you exposed him, he was getting away with it. And got promoted, and probably would be promoted to lieutenant,” Bell said.
Kue has been accused of harassing people of color, using demeaning and racist language and using or threatening to use excessive force. Kue denied virtually all of the allegations against him.
“88 different people are not going to just complain about you, I’m pretty sure that they haven’t gotten together and gotten a group together to complain about you,” said Commissioner Daryl Brown. “This is something that you’re doing that you need to make a correction of how you’re handing the citizens of the City of Detroit.”
Kue was promoted to sergeant in 2019, just months after the department’s disciplinary section moved to fire him after an investigation revealed he was not truthful about firing his weapon during a raid.
But Brown says even if the Board of Police Commissioners aimed to stop Kue’s promotion to sergeant in 2019, they wouldn’t have been successful.
The board has tried in the past and failed to block promotions of troubled officers. Last year, they voted not to promote Corporal Dewayne Jones, caught on camera punching a naked mentally ill woman in a hospital.
Jones was later convicted of misdemeanor assault but the department cited an arbitrator’s ruling that said past discipline can’t prevent an officer from being promoted.
“The biggest thing that we’re up against with the board is, contractually, if he takes the (sergeant’s) test and he passes that test, the boards really has no jurisdiction to stop that promotion,” Brown said.
But throughout his career, Sgt. Kue has seldom been disciplined.
In fact, 7 Action News found that several of the sustained complaints against Kue were later dismissed, with no reason documented.
Commissioners Bell and Brown say they need to understand why, and Interim Chief James White says that’s being looked into as we speak.
Today, Kue is off the street and on desk duty.
“We want to see a better system of accountability, and that’s our whole theme: accountability,” Brown said. “Accountability’s broken. It’s not there.”
Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (248) 827-9466.