Monday, December 3 2012 10:18 AM EST2012-12-03 15:18:03 GMT
A local city commission will vote tonight on a measure that would merge Bay City's police and fire departments.It's part of an effort to save nearly two million dollars over five years.The controversialMore >
A local city commission will vote tonight on a measure that would merge Bay City's police and fire departments.More >
BAY CITY, MI (WNEM) -
Cell phone footage might help paint the picture of what transpired in the late hours of May 1 and what ultimately led three police to step down on Tuesday.
Footage captured appears to show a routine arrest, but Bay City attorney Jason Gower claims it's anything but.
"Three officers in this community basically gave their career away over a Facebook post," Gower said.
Gower represents the 39-year old man who was at Steamer's Bar in Bay City on May 1 and who took a picture that shows a Bay City police SUV parked on the wrong side of the road near another bar. The picture was posted to Facebook, and that's when Gower said three officers, two on-duty and one off-duty, overstepped their bounds.
"A uniformed officer and an off-duty officer approached him and started making verbal threats, threats of bodily harm, threats that he's a marked man, threats of that nature," Gower said.
Gower said the man, who doesn't want to be identified, ultimately ended up in cuffed and in the back of a police car, all while being recorded by bystanders. He was ultimately let go, but his $600 phone was gone.
"The phone was ultimately stolen from him, but that is caught on video, not being taken from him, but the off-duty officer actually has the phone in his hand, and there is video to support that contention," Gower said.
Gower said the man filed a citizen's complaint the next day against the officers. Those three officers, identified as Brian Ritchey, Don Aldrich and Keath Bartynski, were put on paid leave while an internal investigation began. On Tuesday, TV5 learned the three officers resigned.
"Anything short of termination would not be satisfactory to us, so when I heard that they resigned, I think that it certainly gave credence to my statements and the statements of my client that something certainly did happen," Gower said.
Calls to the Bay City Police Chief and the Bay County prosecutor were not returned Tuesday night.
Bay City Police Chief Michael Cecchini said told TV5 last week the officers were placed on leave a few days after the incident on May 1. The officers had been on leave for about seven weeks. He did not go into details but did say the officers were not responding to a call.
TV5 understands at this point there are not any criminal charges against the three former officers, but Gower told TV5 Tuesday night a potential criminal case has been turned over to the state's attorney general.
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