Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner will stand trial for her role in a confrontation with Detroit police, a judge ruled Thursday.
Wagner was in Detroit on Thursday for a preliminary exam on the charges against her.
The interaction Wagner and her husband Khari Mosley had with Detroit police was described in court Thursday as a profanity-laden ruckus where Wagner giggled and boasted of her Pittsburgh political connections and Mosley was belligerent, according to tweets from Detroit News crime reporter George Hunter, who attended the hearing.
District Judge Ronald Giles ruled there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial with one felony count of resisting and obstructing the police and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct filed against Wagner, 41, of Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood.
A second count of resisting and obstructing the police was dropped.
Neither Wagner nor her lawyers returned calls seeking comment for this story.
Mosley, 42, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.
Mosley was also set to appear in court Thursday for a pretrial conference before District Judge Kenneth King. Because his charge was a misdemeanor, there’ll be no preliminary exam, according to the Detroit News.
Detroit police arrested Wagner on March 6 at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. Wagner and Mosley were staying at the hotel while visiting the city on a belated Valentine’s Day trip.
Police say they detained Mosley after he caused a disturbance at the hotel bar and arrested Wagner after she assaulted a police officer.
Wagner told the Tribune-Review that police have mischaracterized the incident, and she and Mosley said they intend to sue police because of the way they were treated.
Hotel employees and police in testimony Thursday detailed the series of events that transpired that night. It clashed with what the couple said happened to them.
The testimony, along with police body camera footage which was played in court, provided a bigger picture of what happened that night than what Wagner and Mosley told the Tribune-Review in an March 9 interview.
In court Thursday, hotel employees described how Mosley was “very irate” and “intoxicated” at the front desk asking for access to a room before hotel security and ultimately police were called. After confirming that Mosley was staying with Wagner, police escorted him to their room.
Detroit police officer Edward Witcher, an 18-year veteran on the force, testified that he went to Wagner’s room to see if Mosley belonged there.
The door to the room was ajar, police knocked and announced themselves. The room was “in disarray; there were clothes all over,” Witcher said.
They “heard some giggling,” Witcher testified.
“I ran over and said ‘Oh my God, are you OK?” Witcher testified.
He said he thought she may have fallen on the floor. She hadn’t.
“She was laughing at the time. I asked her if she’d been drinking. She continued to giggle,” Witcher said.
Wagner wouldn’t tell police how old she was, and Witcher testified he could smell alcohol.
She told police Mosley belonged in the room, and they left to retrieve him, Witcher said.
“(Mosley) was being belligerent still. He got out of the elevator with his hands up saying ‘Trayvon Martin, hands up, Trayvon Martin,” hotel employee Timothy Scott testified, according to tweets from Hunter.
With Mosley inside the hotel room, authorities walked away. Then they heard “kicking on the door real hard,” and they returned, Scott testified.
They handcuffed Mosley, and as they took him to the elevator,” Mrs. Wagner jumped in front of the doors to get in their way,” Scott testified.
“She started yanking on the officer, pulling him. In the process, she pulled him so hard to where she fell. The officer turned around and tried to break her fall. He couldn’t break it so she ended up on the floor,” Scott said.
Police told Wagner “now you’re going to jail,” Scott testified.
She replied that she was a high-ranking official in Pittsburgh and “you don’t know who you’re messing with,” Scott testified, according to Hunter’s tweets.
Prosecutors also played police body camera video from the incident that provided visuals to go with the eyewitness testimony that also showed Wagner swearing and boasting about her position in the county.
“We’re not in your county,” a police officer told her in the video.
Wagner is represented by attorneys Charles Longstreet of Detroit and Thomas Fitzpatrick of Philadelphia.
There’s nothing illegal about drinking in a hotel room, Longstreet told the court, and police didn’t have a legal right to enter Wagner’s room, he said.
The judge disagreed.
“She was putting her hands on that officer. An assault doesn’t have to be violent,” the judge said.
If convicted, Wagner, who is seeking reelection this year, could be removed from office, according to state law.
Wagner will next be in court April 25, when an arraignment in Wayne County Circuit Court is set, according to a statement from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
Mosley is also next due in court that day. He will have a final pre-trial conference before Judge Kenneth King in 36th District Court.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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