AFRICANGLOBE – A Warren police officers’ union is challenging the firing of an officer who forcibly cut the hair of a Black woman shackled in a chair inside the Police Department’s lockup.
The Warren Police Officers Association has filed for arbitration to contest the termination of Bernadette Najor, a 10-year veteran of the force.
Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said officers arrested Charda Gregory, 22, at the Suez Motel on Nov. 13 for suspicion of vandalism, Gregory denied the charges and she was pepper sprayed and arrested.
Later at the police station, Gregory had difficulty standing inside the jail area. Video of the detention area but outside the holding cells shows Najor pushing Gregory against a wall. Officers then strapped her into a chair. Najor yanked Gregory’s head back and spent 3 minutes cutting off the Gregory’s hair and hair weaves as she writhed in agony in the chair.
The police video system does not have audio.
The other officers who witnessed the hair-cutting filed the required use-of-force reports and submitted them to a commander. Najor did not.
Najor was suspended with pay Nov. 15, and Green and the department’s Internal Affairs Division reviewed the incident.
Green said there was no need for Gregory’s hair to be cut, especially after she was bound to the chair.
“The video clearly shows she’s intoxicated. Unless I’m blind, I don’t see where she’s offering any resistance whatsoever,” Warren’s top-ranking police official said.
Najor offered an explanation to officials.
“Bernadette claims that she removed the sewn-in weaves because it could be used as an instrument to harm herself or damage property in the jail,” Green said.
Green fired Najor on Dec. 12.
“I concluded that this was an unnecessary or unreasonable use of force. She doesn’t think she did anything wrong,” the commissioner said. “We can talk about policies and procedures, and that’ll be argued at some point in arbitration. I’ve been here long enough to know this is (the difference) between right and wrong – and that was wrong.”
The actions of three of the four other officers remain under investigation to determine whether they violated department policies. None of them were suspended and they remain on active duty, Green said.
For Gregory’s actions while in the lockup, Warren police sought a warrant charging her with resisting and obstructing police. The Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office declined charge her.
Gregory was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly ripping a television from the wall of the hotel. She told reporters that she had gone to a party in Detroit where she suspects someone drugged her. Her attorney, Paul Misukewicz, told reporters that she had a couple of drinks and woke up disoriented, unaware of how she got there. He called Najor’s treatment of his client “sadistic” and “demeaning.”
The Warren City Attorney’s Office earlier this week dropped the charge of malicious destruction of property.
On Friday, Green added: “Not only am I responsible for the safety of officers that work here, but I’m obligated to protect the rights of the public as well, and that includes those who have committed crimes. I’m responsible for the health and well-being of anyone in my custody.”
A hearing date for arbitration of Najor’s dismissal has not been set.
Attempts to reach WPOA President Mike Sauger for comment were unsuccessful.
By: Norb Franz
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