Last Monday, a Detroit police sergeant was pulled from patrol duty after being sued at least eight times since 2009 and being the target of scores of civilian complaints.
An investigation by 7 Action News revealed that Sgt. Stephen Kue has been accused of harassing people of color and using racist language. Kue was fired only a few hours after the allegations were made public. Kue has been the subject of 85 civilian complaints during his 12 years with the Detroit Police Department. That’s more than ten times the department’s average of approximately eight cops.
Kue’s track record is “mind-blowing,” according to Julie Hurwitz, an attorney suing Kue and the department on behalf of a man she claims was wrongfully shot at and arrested.
Kue “had a history of citizen complaints and force investigations within the department that was as lengthy, longer, more detailed than any officer’s personnel records I’ve ever seen,” she told 7 Action News.
According to internal data, nearly every complainant who specified their race was non-white, and nearly every one of those people was Black.
The racial data is a “concerning pattern,” according to Chris Graveline, director of DPD’s Professional Standards Division.
In a complaint, two brothers alleged that Kue suspected them of possessing drugs at random while standing in the street near their home and that Kue used the N-word to refer to them multiple times. Kue was accused of using the slur by four people in all. The complaint was upheld, but Kue appealed, and the charge was later withdrawn without explanation by a commanding officer.
Kue is accused of targeting individuals of color, using racially insulting words, and using or threatening to use excessive force, according to many reports.
Kue was described by Quory Collins, a 38-year-old Black man, as “a gangster with a badge.”
He was crossing the street near his mum and grandmother’s house in 2017 when Kue and his partner drew up alongside him and frisked him. He was not discovered in possession of anything unlawful, but after an exchange of words with Kue, the officer cuffed him and said, “My trigger finger is itching.” I challenge you to get up. I challenge you to get up.”
Other officers on the scene indicated they didn’t hear Kue use the profanity, thus the case was eventually dismissed. Despite Collins’ and others’ complaints, Kue was promoted to sergeant in 2018.
The eight cases Kue has faced were not listed in Kue’s internal officer biography, indicating that department officials were unaware of the litigation. Kue is often one of several officers charged of assault and violence, denial of civil rights, and gross negligence in the complaints, which date back to 2009. The suits have cost the taxpayers a lot of money.
The case was resolved for $87,500 in 2014 when Kue and other police were accused of storming the wrong residence and assaulting the homeowner. The city admitted no culpability. The family sued and received a $130,000 settlement after a second wrongful raid claim implicating Kue. Suits involving Kue have cost Detroit taxpayers a total of $830,000.
Interim Police Chief James White, who took over the job on June 1 after former Chief James Craig retired, has taken Kue off the street and is personally evaluating all 85 accusations leveled against him.
“The Detroit Police Department is profoundly concerned and dismayed by Sergeant Kue’s alleged pattern of conduct and actions. I immediately initiated an investigation and placed him on administrative duty after removing him from patrol. In a statement, White stated, “I will personally evaluate each complaint against Sgt. Kue, as well as the previous actions of the command team member(s) who rejected the alarming claims.”