A Detroit police lieutenant and an officer were indicted Thursday, on charges of robbing drug dealers of narcotics and money during police searches.
Lt. David Hansberry, 34, and Officer Bryan Watson, 46, face a litany of charges, including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, cocaine possession and multiple counts of interference with commerce by robbery and extortion, the Associated Press reported.
The indictment charges that the pair arranged drug purchases, and then robbed the dealers. In addition, the indictment says that the two carried out their alleged crimes while in uniform and in police vehicles. Hansberry and Watson would identify themselves to their victims as police officers, according to NBC News, "in order to coerce their victims to flee" leaving behind drugs, personal property and cash.
The officers were assigned to the department's narcotics division when the alleged crimes are said to have taken place, between June 2010 and October 2014. The division has since been disbanded, and replaced with a Major Violators Section. Officers posted to the section only work there for a limited duration of time, the Detroit Free Press reported.
"The vast majority of the men and women of the Detroit Police Department are honest and hard-working, but these defendants betrayed their oath and their fellow officers," Detroit Police Chief James Craig said in a statement. "We are committed to the highest standards of integrity, and we will remove any officers who do not live up to those high standards."
Hansberry and Watson appeared in court Thursday, where U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub entered not guilty pleas for them, and ordered them not to possess firearms while out on bond.
Kevlin Omar Brown, 45, who the indictment calls an "associate" of Hansberry, is charged with one count of interference with commerce by robbery or extortion from an incident in January 2012. He will return to court Friday to get a lawyer.
Hansberry's attorney, Michael Harrison told CBS Detroit: “Mr. Hansberry is going to have an opportunity, through this process, to establish his side of the story. We believe that when the facts come out in this case and when the evidence and the lack of credible evidence is shown to the fact-finder, Mr. Hansberry will be acquitted.”