DETROIT -- Hours before a police officer allegedly struck Charda Gregory, restrained her and cut off her hair, the 22-year-old woke up at motel, surrounded by strangers, with no idea how she had gotten there.
She "flipped out," said her lawyer, Paul Misukewicz, then allegedly damaged the room at the Suez Motel on 8 Mile Rd. in Warren, just north of Detroit. The cops were called, but not before Gregory ripped a TV out of the wall and smashed it, according to Warren Police.
That evening, Nov. 13, Gregory was arrested for the misdemeanor offense of destruction of property. After police say she kicked out the window of the responding police car, she was pepper-sprayed and charged with the felony of malicious destruction of police property.
Visibly intoxicated, Gregory was at first combative, Warren Police Deputy Commissioner Louis Galasso told The Huffington Post. By the time she got to booking, however, she was cooperative and docile, he said.
At the police station, Warren Police Officer Bernadette Najor struck Gregory on the chest and pushed her, a police video of the booking shows. The video was uploaded to YouTube by user Bruce MacLeod and also obtained by Misukewicz and WXYZ-TV, who first reported the story. There is no accompanying audio for the video.
The incident begins at 2:25. Several minutes later, officers can be seen restraining Gregory in a chair (6:15) as she struggles, and Najor then proceeds to cut out Gregory's sewn-in hair extensions (7:19). It takes just over 3 minutes before Najor finishes with the scissors.
“I’ve been doing this over 13 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Misukewicz told HuffPost.
Gregory told WXYZ that Najor’s clip job had given her bald spots and that her real hair was ripped out. A beautician, hair was her work.
A single mom with a young son, she was detained at the Warren police station for 14 days. When she was released, Gregory barely remembered what had happened. She thought she may have been drugged earlier that night when she went to a party, Misukewicz said. But when he showed her the police booking video, he said she was visibly upset.
When police command found out, Najor was put on leave and then fired on Dec. 12. One of the other officers wrote up the incident, but Najor didn't file other paperwork that's required when police use force, according to Galasso.
“I read the police report and was stunned at the very bottom line ... that stated that this person’s hair was cut off,” Galasso said. He then reviewed the video of the incident.
Najor offered an explanation of her actions to officials, saying that cutting Gregory’s hair was necessary to prevent possible self-harm or destruction of property, according to the Macomb Daily. That reasoning didn’t make sense to Misukewicz or command, and Galasso said they found no excuse for Najor’s actions.
Galasso said the Warren police officer's union has contested Najor's termination, and arbitration will take place in the next few months.The other officers involved are still under review.
All charges against Gregory were dropped.
“I think we sent a very strong message to the personnel,” Galasso said. He said the force will likely amend jail booking policy to expressly prohibit hair-cutting.
“There’s a real simple thing: It’s called right and wrong. And to me this is something that I won’t tolerate, I don’t think the citizens of Warren will tolerate it,” Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green told WXYZ. “We are always in the process of reviewing things that happen, and trying to make ourselves better and more responsible to the people we work for.”
Misukewicz said his client was satisfied with the outcome of the incident. “She’s just putting it behind her,” he said.