DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit’s City Council President Pro-Tem is off the hook for a ticket issued during a controversial traffic stop earlier this year because of an apparent paperwork mix-up.
A traffic ticket issued to George Cushingberry Jr., who was pulled over with open intoxicants and marijuana inside his vehicle, has been dismissed because the issuing police officer didn’t show up for the court date.
The Detroit Police Department said the officer who cited Cushingberry for failing to use a turn signal didn’t get a notice to appear for a hearing because the 36th District Court sent it to the officer’s old post.
In order for the charge to stick, the officer involved would now have to re-issue the ticket and another court date could be scheduled. But Cushingberry’s lawyer, Rohn Mitchell, said it would be “very unusual” for police to re-issue the ticket.
Police stopped Cushingberry around 10 p.m. on Jan. 7 after he made a turn without signaling near Livernois Avenue and Northfield Street, just south of I-96 on Detroit’s west side.
According to police reports, Cushingberry stopped his vehicle after being pulled over, but then attempted to start it again. At that point, an officer reached into the vehicle, grabbed the keys, and noticed a strong smell of marijuana. Officers also spotted a half cup of alcohol, and an empty rum bottle in the backseat.
Cushingberry identified himself as a city council member and the officers notified a supervisor, per department policy, who immediately responded to the scene. It was that supervisor’s final decision to issue Cushingberry a citation instead of placing him under arrest.
Following the incident, Cushingberry claimed he was a victim of racial profiling, saying he was only guilty of “driving while black.” He told reporters that the marijuana belonged to his passenger, who legally has a medical marijuana card, and that the bottle of rum in his backseat was empty and old.
“It was obvious that I wasn’t drunk because he didn’t give me any field sobriety,” Cushingberry said, calling the citation against him “bogus.”
After ordering an internal investigation into the actions of the supervisor, Police Chief James Craig said that although the six officers who responded to the scene acted properly and followed procedure, it appears Cushingberry received “special treatment.”
“We determined that the sergeant failed to conduct a through assessment of the incident and gather all the facts,” Craig said.
The sergeant, who was not identified, is facing disciplinary action for failing to inform his supervisors of the incident.