HAZEL PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) - A police officer caught on camera roughing up a suspect: He was prosecuted and convicted of assault.
So why is he now working for another police department?
The officer’s advocates say he’s a decorated cop and army veteran who made a one-time bad decision.
But some of the people who live in the city he’s now policing say they don’t think he should get a second chance.
“When your emotions get the best of you, or whatever happened in this case, has no place in law enforcement,” said Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins back in 2016 about one of his former officers.
But Jason White does have a new place in law enforcement - at the department right next door to his old job.
On April 18, 2016, while working for Ferndale Police, White came face to face with a teenager he’d already busted several times for stealing stuff from cars.
In Officer White’s scout car video, you can see that 17-year-old Khalil Williams drops to the ground as the police approach him.
But after Officer White handcuffs Williams, White punches the teen and slams him to the ground at least 3 times. According to police reports, White then strikes Williams six more times.
“When an individual has surrendered themselves, and put themselves in a compliance situation, then it is hands off,” Collins told the 7 Investigators in 2016. “That’s why we acted so quickly.”
The Oakland County Prosecutor charged White with misdemeanor assault and battery. White admitted responsibility, pleading no contest and resigning from the Ferndale department.
But now he’s back on the job, this time with Hazel Park Police.
Our cameras were rolling recently as Officer White went on runs to various Hazel Park retailers and restaurants, just a few blocks over from the places he once patrolled for Ferndale.
“Do you have any concerns that he’s a liability for your department,” asked 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.
“I do not. He’s a solid guy, he’s not going to make a mistake like that again. He’s happy to be where he’s at, he’s thankful, and I’m confident,” said Hazel Park Police Chief Brian Buchholz.
Chief Buchholz says the previous chief is the one who hired White last March, but Buchholz is backing White. He believes what happened in Ferndale was an isolated incident.
“He has a lot to offer, and he has learned from his mistake and I think he can pass that on to others. Also, when dealing with somebody that he may have to arrest-- he knows what it’s like,” said Buchholz.
Even though White completed his 6 months of probation, which included anger management training, some of his new department’s neighbors aren’t quite as forgiving.
“I’m not too comfortable with that, with all the police brutality going on,” said Keoki Drake.
“I wouldn’t get a second chance, so I don’t feel safe living in a community that has an officer who beat someone up,” said Brittany Bauslaugh.
“It doesn’t matter – [he] shouldn’t have any convictions of any kind,” said Brian Blair.
Chief Buchholz says White’s 20 years of experience have been a major asset to the department, including during a recent standoff with a barricaded gunman.
“He negotiated with the gunman for an hour and a half along with another officer, and was able to get him surrender his gun and take him into custody,” said Buchholz.
Officer White declined to talk to us on camera for this story – his new chief says he just wants to move forward.
“What’s your message to the community about Jason White,” asked Catallo.
“He’s a good guy. Come and meet him… He made a mistake – he did. And he’s paid his dues, and we’re willing to give him a 2nd chance,” said Buchholz.
Khalil Williams has since been locked up again. He’s currently in the Oakland County Jail, awaiting trial on carjacking charges.
If you have a story for Heather, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 248-827-4473.
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