City opens probe into Detroit councilman’s conduct

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DETROIT (AP) — A newly elected Detroit city councilman said he wasn’t drunk and was a victim of racial profiling when police ticketed him for a “bogus charge” of failing to use a turn signal.

The city’s police chief said George Cushingberry Jr. was legally stopped Tuesday night and noted that both Black and White officers were involved in the incident.

Cushingberry acknowledges there was a strong odor of marijuana in the car, but he said the smell was from a passenger who was legally carrying medical marijuana.

Two officers followed policy and summoned a supervisor after Cushingberry identified himself as a public official during the traffic stop. He had been at a bar.

Cushingberry told the Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/1gNuCfL) that he had an empty rum bottle in the car from a party several days earlier.

“It was obvious that I wasn’t drunk because he didn’t give me any field sobriety,” he said.

Cushingberry was released but ticketed for failing to use a signal.

“That is a bogus charge. I intend to fight it,” he said.

The city said Friday that Detroit’s inspector general’s office is investigating Cushingberry’s conduct. Results of the probe will be made public and shared with Mayor Mike Duggan, the City Council and state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr, according to the city.

Police Chief James Craig Jr. also said there will be an internal investigation of how a supervisor handled the stop.

The officers who made the stop “did nothing wrong. There was a legal stop. … I met with both officers. We had a great conversation,” Craig said Friday.

Cushingberry said he had a shot of rum during a meal at the Penthouse Lounge, six glasses of water and two diet Cokes.

Cushingberry, who is Black, claims he was targeted by White officers. The police chief, however, said one of the officers involved is Black. Detroit is 82 percent Black.

“I think they’ve got to do far more sensitivity training with some of these people who came on the force later who are not as sensitive to the racial issues and to following the law,” Cushingberry said.

Cushingberry was elected to the nine-member City Council in November.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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