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Two Detroit police officers were charged with robbing drug dealers and stealing drugs obtained in police searches to sell the narcotics themselves and split the profits, a U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Lieutenant David Hansberry, 34, and Officer Bryan Watson, 46, were indicted Wednesday on a series of charges ranging from extortion of drug dealers and taking drugs and money obtained in police searches to carrying out fake arrests, the United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Michigan said Thursday.
Hansberry and Watson are accused of arranging drug transactions between June 2010 and October 2014 and then robbing the unknowing participants of controlled substances, money and personal property, according to the indictment against the two Detroit Police Department officers.
The duo also allegedly carried out fake traffic stops and arrests in uniform and in police vehicles to carry out their robberies. Hansberry and Watson would identify themselves to their victims as police officers, according to the indictment, "in order to coerce their victims to flee" and leave behind narcotics and property.
Instead of entering the property into evidence, the two would divide the stolen goods among themselves and sell the controlled substances, according to the indictment. The officers are also charged with stealing cash and drugs seized during searches of homes.
The pair had been previously assigned to a now-disbanded narcotics section of the Detroit Police Department and have been suspended since October.
Hansberry, who according to the indictment was also known by the names "Sarge" and "Hater," was promoted to the role of Lieutenant in 2013. Watson, who was also known as "Bullet," was a police officer in the narcotics section of the department. Hansberry was a 16-year veteran of the force, while Watson had served for 22 years, according to NBC affiliate WDIV.
"The vast majority of the men and women of the Detroit Police Department are honest and hard-working, but these defendants betrayed their oath and their fellow officers," Detroit Police Chief James Craig said in a statement. "We are committed to the highest standards of integrity, and we will remove any officers who do not live up to those high standards."
"Officers who violate the law cannot be tolerated because effective law enforcement requires public trust," U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. "We applaud Chief Craig’s commitment to root out any officers who tarnish the badge."
The officers were each charged with eight different counts, each with penalties ranging from 5 years to life in prison. The charges are conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, multiple counts of interference with commerce by robbery and extortion, possession with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine and two counts of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and drug trafficking crime.
An associate of Hansberry, Kevlin Omar Brown, 45, was charged with one count of interference with commerce by robbery and extortion.