(DETROIT) — A Detroit police officer was charged with manslaughter for allegedly punching a 71-year-old man who prosecutors say then fell and hit his head and died from his injuries several weeks later.
Juwan Marquise-Alexander Brown, 29, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Wednesday morning. Brown said only his name during the hearing, which was conducted over Zoom. The magistrate entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
The charge stems from an incident that occurred the evening of Sept. 1 while Brown was on duty. He had been dispatched to a Detroit bowling alley following a call that the victim — Daryl Vance, of Detroit — was being “disorderly,” the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said.
A “verbal confrontation” between Brown and Vance “escalated,” and the officer allegedly punched the victim in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement, the prosecutor’s office said.
Emergency responders arrived and transported the victim to a local hospital for treatment, where he died on Sept. 21, the prosecutor’s office said. The Wayne County Medical Examiner determined his death was caused by blunt force trauma to his head from the punch, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Brown with manslaughter. He faces a 15-year sentence if convicted.
“Police officers frequently deal with citizens who are disorderly and verbally unpleasant. But the evidence in this case shows that the officer allegedly was the aggressor, and his actions went criminally beyond what was necessary in this situation,” Worthy said in a statement. “This behavior cannot be tolerated from our law enforcement.”
The Detroit Police Department said Brown was terminated “as a result of his actions” in the incident though is exercising his contractual right to appeal the decision.
“During the pendency of an appeal, if sought, Mr. Brown will remain off DPD payroll and will not possess any law enforcement authority,” the department said in a statement.
“The DPD will cooperate fully with Prosecutor Worthy’s efforts toward obtaining a conviction for the charged offenses,” the statement continued.
During his arraignment on Wednesday, Brown’s attorney, Matthew Forrest, had asked for a personal bond, arguing that the defendant has no criminal history and has been employed as a Detroit police officer for approximately seven years. He has extensive ties to the Detroit area and a 7-year-old son, Forrest said.
“When we were made aware that charges were filed, we arranged to have Mr. Brown turn himself in to be arraigned today,” Forrest told the court. “He is certainly not a flight risk. He is not a danger to the community. We would ask for a personal bond so that Mr. Brown can go back with his son.”
The state asked for a “reasonable” bond left to the court’s discretion.
Magistrate William Burton ultimately set a $100,000 personal bond and said Brown is not to possess any weapons or have contact with any witnesses or the victim’s family.
A probable cause conference in the case has been scheduled for Jan. 3.
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