When innocent people fear the police because they know walking into a store can get you beaten and pepper sprayed — because a cop doesn’t like you — something is very wrong. However, that is exactly what happened to D’Marco Craft and Michaele Jackson as the pair walked into a Detroit gas station last year. And now, the officer has been sentenced for his crimes in this case—to probation.
After officer Richard Billingslea, 25, was caught on camera pepper spraying and beating an innocent man, he was charged with Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm; Aggravated Assault; Obstruction of Justice; and Assault and Battery. He pleaded no contest. Thanks to his “exemplary career” prior to this incident, he was sentenced to just two years of probation instead of jail. He will have to attend anger management classes and community service as well.
“The police report is clearly a fabrication and is in direct conflict with the footage from Mr. Craft’s cell phone. It’s outrageous that the officers who are supposed to protect the rights of their citizens behave in such an unwarranted, aggressive and cruel manner,” Southfield-based attorneys Solomon M. Radner, who represented the victims, said in a news release.
The gang-style tactics of Billingslea and his partner officer Hakeem Patterson were caught on two separate videos; the surveillance camera in the gas station and Craft’s cell phone. However, because the alleged assailants were cops, the gas station surveillance video was confiscated to hide the officers’ crimes and no one but police get to see that one. Luckily for Craft and Jackson, however, the cell phone video which almost got destroyed proves the official police story to be untrue.
“Once I went in, I instantly recognized this police officer (Billingslea) because I’ve had confrontations with him since last year. It’s been ongoing since March of 2016,” Craft said of his harassment by society’s ostensible protectors. “I froze a little. And he said: ‘So why you not going to buy nothing now; probably because I’m in here. M******F*****, you don’t want to buy nothing now?’ So that’s when I had to say, ‘F*** you man, you know how you treat me all the time’.”
Jackson apparently refused to be bullied by the two cops and again attempted to walk in to purchase their items. This apparently angered Billingslea and pushed the officer over the edge.
“I don’t know what happened inside the gas station, but on the way out he was like, ‘Bro, let’s go. Let’s go to another gas station.’ I’m like, ‘Why? I don’t see any tape around it.’ So I’m like, I’m going on and get me some cigarettes,” Jackson said after Craft expressed his fear of the cops.
If you read the police report, Billingslea claims he called for backup when he saw Jackson as he was “walk[ing] towards me yelling and shouting in a very aggressive manner.”
But it was Billingslea who was aggressive. Throughout the video, Jackson keeps trying to walk away from Billingslea. At one point, both cops attack Jackson, throw him to the ground and shove his face into the concrete. Apparently having no reason to arrest him, the officers let him back up, at which point Jackson decided that he wasn’t going to be bullied out of buying his cigarettes, so he attempted to enter the store again.
Once inside, Billingsea claims Jackson tried to hit him and then claimed that he was forced to pepper spray him in the face and throw him to the ground to protect himself.
As FOX 2 reports, Billingslea’s report says he followed Jackson into the store and “at this time I was able to get out the way and pulled my department issued OC spray”. Billingslea said he ordered Jackson to the ground but claims Jackson was still aggressive and came toward him clenched fists. Billingslea said he then sprayed Jackson with a 2-3 second burst.
However, Jackson never came toward Billingslea. In fact, the attack happens as Jackson has his back to the officer while trying to check out at the register.
Billingslea attacked an innocent man—from behind—threw him to the ground, began striking him with his knee while his partner tried to stop the man filming it, and this is called policing in America.
Craft recorded the incident on his cell phone but prosecutors said Billingslea tried to throw it away. Luckily, it was retrieved by another officer from a trash can. Billingslea was also accused of turning off his body camera during the encounter.
Billingslea charged Jackson with aggravated or felonious assault. However, the Wayne County Prosecutor returned the case citing lack of information.
Sure, Jackson got mouthy with Billingslea, but this was only after they tried to intimidate him and his friend for simply walking into a store. There was no justification for the subsequent violence as it was nothing short of a cop losing his temper and abusing his badge to dole out street justice.
Although this incident happened in May of 2017, Billingslea wasn’t in hot water until the cell phone video came out. He was finally charged last December.
Also, both Jackson and Craft have filed lawsuits against the Detroit police for violation of their constitutional rights.
“Right now, I feel like it was a slap on the wrist,” Craft told FOX 2 after the sentencing was handed down. “He had his other officers who were also there with him at the time of this crime, and they’re just sitting in the courtroom right beside me, and I said, it’s a scary feeling right there because only one guy [is] down and there’s other people out there they could be doing this to.”
According to FOX 2, Jackson and Craft aren’t the only ones to claim to have been attacked by this pair of cops. Another alleged victim is suing them both in federal court for excessive force as well.
Even though the lawsuit is seeking money, Jackson says he wants something else.
“Hopefully, things will change and we can become better as one—city, cops and the community,” he said.
As a convicted felon, Billingslea cannot work as a police officer again.