The sergeant who was suspended for not rushing to the scene of last week’s fatal shooting of Detroit police officer Rasheen McClain was fired five years ago for behaving cowardly: He stood by and watched a female officer get assaulted, police said.
But he still got his job back, and, was promoted to sergeant — a fact that Police Chief James Craig said he struggles with.
“I was very vocal about this case,” Craig said of the sergeant’s initial firing. “We’re talking about a coward. How do you stand by and watch your partner take a beating?”
The sergeant at issue is Ronald Kidd, a 21-year veteran of the Detroit police force who was suspended with pay on Monday on accusations of sitting inside his car a block away from an active shooting last week that killed one officer and injured another.
For reasons unknown, instead of rushing to the house to secure the scene like he was supposed to, Craig said, Kidd sat in his cruiser, watched other officers running in the area and at one point told another officer: ‘We should take cover.’
“I know of no time when I’ve seen this kind of neglect,” Craig said. “Our officers deserved better from Sgt. Kidd.”
Kidd could not be reached for comment. Mark Young, president of the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association union, did not return calls for comment.
According to police, Kidd was fired by a police board in 2014 but his union intervened and helped him keep his job through a plea deal. Craig, however, said that he never signed off on that deal and that someone forged his signature on it by signing his name with a purple pen: Craig said he only uses green pens for official business.
Craig said “there is no way” he would have signed off on the deal, which lowered Kidd’s punishment from a firing to a 65-day suspension. He said he is now investigating how Kidd got his job back to begin with. As for Kidd’s promotion to sergeant in 2018, Craig said that was out of his hands because of contractual issues: in this case, more than two years had passed since the misconduct, so Kidd was eligible for a promotion.
“People have pasts. … The possibility does exist that they could be promoted,” Craig said. “I know it’s hard for people to grasp. … Based on contractual (issues), we could not stop his promotion.”
According to Craig, Kidd could face neglect of duty charges, though a request has not yet been made to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. Right now, he said many on the force are angry, frustrated and “want him fired” for his alleged actions on the night one of their own was taken down by a gunman hiding in a basement.
According to Craig, McClain and his partner were responding to a 911 call about a break-in at a house on the west side. When they arrived, the tenants of the house — a 32-year-old woman and her teenage son– were outside and said a gunman was still inside.
Turned out, Craig said, that gunman lived at the house occasionally, dated the mother, and had shot up the same house two weeks earlier when the teenage boy wouldn’t let him inside.
According to Craig, McClain and his partner entered the home with a key, searched the upstairs and then ventured toward the basement, where the gunman was waiting in hiding and opened fire.
Craig said that McClain had to act as his own supervisor that night because the one he called on never showed up. Instead, Craig said Kidd “sat in his scout car a block away while you could hear people screaming ‘officer down’ on the radio. … His response was that he was sitting in his car … waiting to see if the suspect ran his way. But that’s not acceptable when there’s an officer down.”
Retired Assistant Detroit Police Chief Steve Dolunt agreed, stressing the officers at the scene took the action they did because a supervisor was not there to assist.
“His job as the supervisor is to go to the scene and secure the scene. You’re not supposed to go and set up yourself a block away,” Dolunt said.
According to Dolunt, this is what should have gone down that night when McClain requested that a supervisor come to the scene.
“When (the supervisor) responds, they immediately should say, ‘everybody stand down. Let me get there. Let’s set up a perimeter. Do not take any action until I get there,’ ” Dolunt said.
But that didn’t happen. McClain and his partner entered the house, secured the upstairs and then ventured toward the basement, where the gunman was hiding.
“I don’t know why they went in,” Dolunt said. “McClain was a cop. That’s what he did. He looked for the bad guy … based on his prior experience, he figured he was doing the right thing.”
But, Dolunt stressed: “There was no sergeant there to say, ‘Hey, don’t do it.’ It sounds like he dropped the ball majorly. That’s not neglect of duty. That borders on cowardice … he allegedly sat in the dark, a street away. People are yelling and screaming. He did nothing.”
Contact Tresa Baldas: firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Gina Kaufman contributed to this report.
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