The Michigan State Police has found a trooper violated department policies when he and another trooper pulled over a Black man in Saginaw. The incident involved a ɡᴜп inside the man’s truck.The civilian who was pulled over, 27-year-old Stephen J. Houston, filed complaints with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the MSP, alleging гɑᴄɪɑʟ discrimination against the two white troopers who pulled him over on the afternoon of July 11.
In an Oct. 15 letter sent to Houston’s attorney, Janey J. Lamar, 1st Lt. Brody Boucher of the MSP’s Professional Standards Section wrote the complaint against troopers Paul E. Arrowood and Gregory Berta had been investigated and was completed.
“The fact surrounding this incident have been carefully reviewed by appropriate commanders, in conjunction with the Professional Standards Section,” Boucher wrote. “The investigation determined that Trooper Berta’s actions were legal and justified based on the totality of circumstances. A review of Trooper Arrowood’s actions revealed evidence that he violated Michigan State Police Policies.”
Boucher went on to write that he is prohibited by law from disclosing what corrective actions have been or will be taken against Arrowood due to the finding.
“However,” he wrote, “I can assure you steps will be taken to prevent this behavior from occurring again.”
Lamar said she was partly pleased with the outcome.
“I am glad Mr. Houston’s complaint yielded a finding that Trooper Arrowood was in the wrong,” Lamar said. “However, MSP needs to be more transparent to the public about its finding. MSP has failed to state with particularity the exact policy violation(s) Trooper Arrowood will be disciplined for in addition to its disciplinary or corrective actions. It’s my understanding Trooper Arrowood continued patrolling in the Saginaw community after this incident. Our community deserves to be reassured MSP has handled Trooper Arrowood’s actions appropriately. Our community should be able to trust those who have a duty to police in our community by knowing police misconduct will not be tolerated.”Lamar added she and Houston are still awaiting the outcome of the complaint filed with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Reacting to the MSP’s findings, Houston said he believes police reform is still needed.
“Police need to learn the community that they are supposed to protect and serve,” Houston said. “God allowed me to make it out of this situation alive but who’s to say that someone else wouldn’t have been ᴋɪʟʟᴇԀ? It’s not easy to get back to life as normal when something as tragic as this happens to you; life as normal isn’t so normal.”
Boucher could not be reached by MLive for comment.
The incident started in the late afternoon of July 11 when Houston was pulled over by Arrowood and Berta while he was driving his blue 2017 Dodge Ram on 27th Street in Buena Vista Township for improperly passing another moving vehicle. Houston has a concealed ρɪѕтᴏʟ license and had a .40-caliber Glock һɑпԀɡᴜп in his truck’s center console at the time of the traffic stop.Dashboard camera footage from the troopers’ patrol vehicle of the incident was obtained by Lamar via the Freedom of Information Act, who then shared it with MLive.
Houston did not immediately tell officers he had the legal ɡᴜп in his vehicle. When the troopers saw it, they pulled their wᴇɑρᴏпѕ and confronted Houston, placing him in handcuffs.
After about 20 minutes, the troopers uncuff Houston. One shakes Houston’s hand and pats him on the back of his shoulder as he returns to his truck, at which point the footage ends.He was not charged with any crime, though Michigan law states a CPL holder stopped by police while in possession of a ρɪѕтᴏʟ “shall immediately disclose to the police officer that he or she is carrying a concealed ρɪѕтᴏʟ either on their person or in their motor vehicle.” Failure to do so is a state civil infraction.
Houston previously told MLive/The Saginaw News that he was scared for his life because the troopers approached the vehicle so quickly and he didn’t disclose that he had the licensed ɡᴜп in the truck.
“They rushed my car so fast,” Houston previously said. “They pulled their ɡᴜпs on me and threatened to blow my head off, when I was giving them my information. I didn’t have a chance to do anything. They had no reason for doing what they did.”
Vicki Levengood, communications director with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, has confirmed to MLive that Houston has filed a complaint with her agency.
“It is currently in the process of being assigned to an investigator,” Levengood has said. “I cannot comment on a complaint under investigation.”