BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (April 4, 2014) – The Battle Creek Police Department is again dealing with allegations of corruption after a video surfaces and a city commissioner alleges ‘excessive force’ was used by an officer.
Even though the incident happened in 2012, the video and claims were enough to prompt a Michigan State Police investigation.
This comes just months after new leadership in the city starts to take hold. The city has a new police chief, a new city manager, and a new mayor, each of them claiming to want more accountability and transparency in government.
Commissioner Jeff Domenico said with this particular case, the test is now.
The surveillance video of the arrest is captured by the Liberty Convenience Store on Capital Avenue NE in Battle Creek.
It shows a man, later identified as Kenneth Moye, pulling a woman out of a car by her hair. Seconds later, a police car is seen pulling into the lot. Moye walks over to the cruiser and appears to exchange words with the officer.
55-year-old Moye is then seen putting his hands on the hood of the cruiser. Moments later, the officer hits him multiple times in the face then throws him to the ground.
The video was recorded on October 2, 2012 and according to acting Police Chief Jim Blocker it was investigated internally at the time. Sources tell us the officer in question is Christopher Hug. Chief Blocker said at the time he was cleared of any wrong-doing.
“When I found out that the officer in question was not disciplined at all I really got concerned that we were still continuing down a downward path that is not where we want to go for a healthy community,” said Commissioner Domenico.
If the incident happened in 2012, why is the officer the subject of a MSP investigation now? According to Domenico is has everything to do with who is no longer in charge and access to information through the Freedom of Information Act.
“Once the change in command took place, where the city manager and the police chief had left we felt that our FOIA opportunity would enhance greatly because we have people that want to do the right things now,” he said.
Domenico and PaleoRadio supplied us with the video. Domenico said he’s known about the arrest for years and tried to bring it to the attention of former city manager, Ken Tsuhiyama.
“He never followed up with it,” Domenico said in reference to telling the city manager about the video. “He never got back with me at least and that made me very uncomfortable.”
Tsuhiyama retired earlier this year, just weeks after former chief Jackie Hampton stepped down.
The reason Domenico is going public with these concerns is because he said Moye was paid so he wouldn’t file a lawsuit against the city.
“The city has decided to pay the victim and then be done with it,” said Domenico. “I don’t think that’s enough. We need to hold ourselves a little more accountable. Yeah, these things were happening on our city streets. They were happening in our backyards but now they are not going to happen anymore.”
Domenico would not disclose the amount of money Moye was paid by the city. Moye was paid more than a year after pleading ‘no contest’ to assaulting a police officer during that incident. One of several convictions on his criminal record.
Domenico said having the video come out now is one step in moving the city forward. And the city can learn from the past.
“This has nothing to do with the current regime,” he said. “They are actually spearheading efforts to do great things and it’s a much more promising future for the employees of the police department as well as the community.”
The acting police chief tells FOX 17 that he plans to release more details on the case soon. He also mentioned that he plans on bringing in a specialist to talk about the use of force when an officer is on duty.