DPD Cops Michael Parish and Michael Osman, known as the “Booty Boys,” allegedly subjected Black men to dozens of public anal cavity searches on the southwest side
Multiple victims documented their claims in testimony before Detroit City Council, civil lawsuits, media interviews; City of Detroit paid out over $700,000.00.
“These allegations are completely and utterly false, as supported by every member of the investigative process.” — DPD Dec. 22, 2023
“Because such acts flagrantly violate not only the Constitution, but also accepted law enforcement practices, these acts must figure prominently in personnel decisions about the careers of the officers who commit them.” (excerpt, full quote below) — ACLU Racial Justice Project Atty. Mark Fancher; the ACLU filed suit vs. ‘Booty Boys.’
Forced cavity searches have become rampant across the U.S., including recent incidents in Allen Park, Ferndale, Warren
By Diane Bukowski
December 24, 2023
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Michael Parish, one of two cops known as “The Booty Boys” on Detroit’s southwest side, for allegedly conducting public anal cavity searches on Black men in the 2000’s, has been identified by Detroit Police Chief James White as his Chief of Staff, in addition to his role as Commander.
White and Parrish appeared together at a National Action Network forum Sept. 24, 2022 to tout the controversial ShotSpotter technology used by DPD.
White said he first met Parish about 14 years ago, and hired him to write policy for the Department.
“He’s been with me for many, many years now.” Chief White said. “Michael Parish is my chief of staff. In his spare time, he has become a lawyer. I put him over the towing unit. He says, ‘Chief, we gotta hire some returning citizens. . . .Set the tone now.’ He brings in a young man who went to jail for murder. . . as a tow truck driver. He became one of our best employees. But Mike wasn’t done. He says, ‘Now that I’m a lawyer, if you let me, I think we’ve got a lot of people that need fresh starts. I’m going to volunteer to do expungements every Wednesday.”
The complete Facebook video from the NAN forum is included below in this story.
The article excerpted in the box above was published 14 years ago in 2009 as part of a series in The Michigan Citizen, the same year White says he met and hired Parish.
The article recounts allegations made by dozens of Black men on the southwest side. The men first spoke with Michigan Citizen photographer Wyoman Mitchell and this reporter, then testified at the Detroit City Council. Later, they spoke to and hired multiple attorneys at a neighborhood rally, organized by Mitchell.
See full Michigan Citizen story at: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Cops-Rape-Blck-Men-Lawsuits-Seek-Millions-from-City-Michigan-Citizen-8-9-2009-3.pdf
In the case of Elvis Ware, the Michigan ACLU settled for $20,000 and an agreement that Detroit officers would be told to obtain a warrant for cavity searches and have them performed by medical personnel at a hospital, as Michigan state law requires. Attorney Mark Fancher was among the ACLU personnel handling the case. His comments for this story are included farther down.
“If I feel something that I believe to be a weapon and/or contraband within somebody’s pants, I will reach in and recover it,” Parish, unapologetic, said in a deposition in the case of Marcon Green. Osman denied having committed such searches in a media interview.
“Police officers Michael Parish and Michael Osman are both white and engaged in inappropriate conduct against African Americans because of their personal racial animus.” attorney Lawrence Radden said in a complaint for Terence Hopkins.
But a barrage of media coverage favoring of the police, citing out-of-court settlements through an internal procedure where the City paid over $700,000 in the cases of Byron Ogletree and Marjjo Clyburn, led to a jury vote nixing the Hopkins lawsuit.
It was Ogletree’s assault and arrest by Parish and Osman on May 31, 2006 which triggered a community uprising on S. Schaefer at Annabelle and brought the cops’ actions to public attention.
Ogletree and Marcon Green, Devon Windom, and Melvin Shields, Jr. testified in front of the Detroit City Council at Councilwoman JoAnn Watson’s request a few days later. This reporter broke the story in the Michigan Citizen after the hearing and separate interviews with the men. Watson continued to press for action against the officers at subsequent council meetings.
“Was any discipline sanctioned by the police department, internal affairs division?” she asked. “Was any report filed by Ms. [Sheryl] Robinson [federal monitor] relative to the consent decree? This is not a small issue. It has grave impact on the moral and fiscal liability of the city.”
According to court records, DPD Internal Affairs Sgt. Joseph Tiseo, FBI agent Michael Fitzgerald, and Asst. U.S. Attorney Pamela Thompson jointly investigated the cases. Thompson eventually told lawyers for the plaintiffs that the U.S. Attorney had cleared the cops in 2007.
Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings, through her spokesperson Deputy Chief James Tate, not only cleared the officers, but promoted Osman to sergeant. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick ducked the issue, saying through his spokesman Matt Allen that the federal government had taken over the case. Tate later reported there was no basis for the allegations.
In most of those cases, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy filed criminal charges against the victims, based on allegations in the pre-textual stops (no turn signal, odor of marijuana, etc.), including charges against Ogletree which had him facing up to 37 years in prison.
The late WCCC Judge Carole Youngblood dismissed Ogletree’s criminal case after a police technician testified that he had not been contacted to preserve the videotape of Ogletree’s arrest, despite his attorney’s request to do so a day after the event. Officers at the Southwestern District had allowed the machine to rewind and tape over the event five days afterwards.
Three other WCCC judges, Deborah Thomas, Rudy Serra, and Cynthia Hathaway threw out charges against Melvin Shields, Marjjo Clyburn, and Mario Smith after testimony about actions by Parish and Osman. Prosecutor Worthy appealed in two of the cases.
DPD, ACLU respond to VOD requests for comment
VOD emailed the Detroit Police Department for their response to its Nov. 22, 2023 article on the matter, asking “1. How has Commander Parish been promoted to this level after his “alleged” forced body cavity searches (rapes) of Black men on the southwest side in and around 2006?2. What is the Detroit Police Department’s current policy on such practices? 3. Does DPD DENY Officers Michael Parish and Michael Osman committed such acts despite dozens of witnesses and lawsuits filed? 4. Did DPD conduct its own investigations of these matters?”
DPD Media Relations answered only #3 of the request. “These allegations are completely and utterly false, as supported by every member of the investigative process,” an anonymous representative said. “In addition to his years of service with the Detroit Police Dept., Commander Michael Parish is a licensed attorney who works in his free time to have the criminal records of defendants expunged. Many of these defendants are African Americans in the city of Detroit, and Commander Parish’s work enables them to gain employment and improve their lives.
DPD continued, “In his time with the Detroit Police Department, Commander Parish has passed promotional examinations and successfully served in supervisory capacities, allowing him to be selected by management and approved by the Board of Police Commissioners for further advancement in the Department. Commander Parish has served this city and Department diligently.”
Attorney Mark Fancher, of the Michigan ACLU’s Racial Justice project, was among the attorneys who spoke with men raising complaints against the “Booty Boys” at a “Picnic for Justice” event July 12, 2006.
He told VOD, “We offer no specific comment about Michael Parish, but we have a continuing concern about all law enforcement officers who engage in unauthorized searches of private areas of the body and any other acts that violate the constitutional rights and dignity of members of the community. Because such acts flagrantly violate not only the Constitution, but also accepted law enforcement practices, these acts must figure prominently in personnel decisions about the careers of the officers who commit them.”
Below is the complete Facebook Live video of the National Action Network forum featuring Chief James White and his chief of staff, Cdr. Michael Parish.
DETROIT POLICE DEPARTMENT CONTINUING POLICY–NONE
The DPD did not respond to VOD’s question about the current practice of its officers related to cavity searches, although the ACLU says it obtained “an agreement that Detroit officers would be told to obtain a warrant for cavity searches and have them performed by medical personnel at a hospital, as Michigan state law requires.” A search of DPD’s policies and procedures published on its website found no such language. Its Search and Seizure policy is below.
POLICE BODY CAVITY SEARCHES LOCALLY AND NATION-WIDE
Since the “Booty Boys” cases, police locally and nationally have continued assaulting men and women illegally with forced body cavity searches, with little accountability. Recent media coverage of such cases in Warren, Ferndale, and Allen Park is included below, followed by several cases nationally.
Apparently, such continued violations of individuals’ constitutional rights result from the failure of entities like the Detroit Police Dept. and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office to hold officers accountable for what amounts to rape of Black men and women, in this case promoting DPD’s Michael Parish to “Chief of Staff” for Chief James White.
Excerpt Detroit News article: “The lawsuit accuses Warren Police Officers C. Wells, R. McNeil and L. Johnson, along with a “John Doe” officer, of excessive force and of violating the Fourth Amendment rights of Kirk Knopek during the March 13, 2022 incident. The lawsuit that seeks more than $75,000 claims Wells conducted the body cavity search while the other officers failed to intervene.”
“According to the lawsuit, an officer put on blue gloves and ordered Knopek to spread his legs and “just be quiet.” Knopek was further ordered to “assume a standing position to initiate an illegal roadside body cavity search,” the suit alleges.
“Wells proceeded to pull down and reach into (Knopek’s) sweatpants, pull down and reach into (his) underwear, reached in grabbing (his) buttocks, and then forcefully inserted his finger(s) into plaintiff’s anus,” the suit alleges.”
ALLEN PARK POLICE
Excerpts: “The ghastly chain of events in Campbell v. Mack were set off when Kevin Campbell, a black man, drove past Daniel Mack, a white police officer in Allen Park, Michigan.”
“Mack then pulled down Campbell’s pants and underwear, bent down, and examined Campbell’s genitals. Campbell repeatedly asked the officer to stop and told him, “Nah, you can’t do that, man,” but Mack responded, “Yes, I can, yes, I can,” and escalated the search. Mack allegedly felt underneath Campbell’s genitals, telling another officer he had drugs “tucked underneath his balls” or “tucked in his fucking ass crack.” Campbell claims that Mack also “grabbed” and “pulled” his testicles and “stuck his finger inside of my anus.” Eventually, the officer gave up and told Campbell: “You can keep it,” referring to these putative drugs. No narcotics were ever found.”
“But in an opinion by Judge Eric Clay, the 6th Circuit refused to grant Mack qualified immunity. It is clearly established, Clay wrote, that an officer “needs either probable cause or reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop.” Mack had neither. It is also clearly established that an officer may not retaliate when a suspect contests “his or her allegedly unlawful treatment.” The First Amendment protects a suspect’s right to complain. Yet Mack did just that, allegedly tightening Campbell’s handcuffs and performing the body cavity search in an increasingly “aggressive, intimidating, and hostile manner” because Campbell protested. Under well-established 6th Circuit precedent, Mack’s actions, as recounted by Campbell, were obviously unlawful, so Mack must fight them at trial, and cannot hide behind qualified immunity.” See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Campbell-v-Mack-18-2156.pdf.
THE HORROR OF POLICE SEXUAL ASSAULTS AND ABUSE OF BLACK MEN–FINAL CALL
In 2021, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a District Court dismissal of Deaundra Billingsley’s complaint in the above case, and remanded it to the District Court to correct its errorsSee: 22a0365n-06.pdf (uscourts.gov)
Previous VOD Article on Michael Parish:
Final Call article on Booty Boys:
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