EDITORIAL: It’s Time to Resign, Chief Jedrusik!

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It isn’t often I write an editorial here on The Westland Gazette.  

We like to present newsworthy information, relevant events, information about City Council actions, and the like.  I generally prefer not to use this platform to speak my own mind about happenings in Westland, even as the owner of this publication.  I believe this is only the second full editorial I’ve written in the history of our publication.  

I have to use that editorial power at this time to call for the resignation of Westland’s Police Chief, Jeff Jedrusik.  

As most now know, the Westland Police Sergeant and two EMT’s, who were facing manslaughter charges in connection with the death of Mr. William Marshall in Westland Police custody, have had those charges dropped, and are now only bound over on misconduct in office charges.  Those charges against former Sergeant Ronald Buckley, and EMT’s Leah Maynard and Matthew Dicosola, do carry a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison, but with the manslaughter charges being dropped, it appears no one will truly be held responsible for Mr. Marshall’s death.

Quoting Westland Mayor William R. Wild:

“Once again, I want to express my sympathies to the family of William Marshall. We as a city hope and pray and expect that no one in the custody of the Westland Police Department or Fire Department would ever lose their lives. I know that police officers and firefighters throughout both departments, from the lowest ranks to the chiefs, feel as terrible about this situation as I do.”

Are you able to watch this video, courtesy of our colleagues at WXYZ-TV Detroit, and tell me that it looks like the police officers and firefighters on this video, with this man seizing and begging for his life on the ground, felt terrible as this man lay dying in front of them? I know I felt positively sick watching it for the first time, and I can only imagine the horrors Mr. Marshall’s family felt.

How can you look at that video and say no one is responsible for this death?  The Police have a DUTY to look after your well-being if you are in their custody.  

I wish to send the deepest condolences of my family to Mr. Marshall’s family.  I’ve not had the honor of meeting you yet, but I can’t even imagine your tragic loss, and receiving no justice.  I am glad you at least received a generous settlement, but that still doesn’t make up for the loss of a father, a brother, a son.  Just a needless loss.

Mr. Marshall’s family aren’t the only ones who lost though, so did the Westland taxpayer. The Westland Gazette has learned that the total settlement to Mr. Marshall’s loved ones is $3,750,000 , with the City of Westland on the hook for the first $250,000 and the rest being paid by insurance.

Quoting from hometownlife.com (David-Veselenak) and Westland City Attorney James Fausone

“Most of those funds will be paid through the city’s insurance company, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, with the city of Westland having to pay the first $250,000 as a part of the retention, which is similar to a deductible, Fausone said. “The remainder of the settlement will be paid for by the insurance company,” he said.

I don’t know if that will wind up costing the city more in insurance, but this is money coming out of our city’s pockets because our Police did an awful job in this situation. That much is not in doubt. This Police Department, in conjunction with the Fire Department, has not solved firefighter Brian Woehlke’s death at the Marvaso’s Fire, ONE OF THEIR OWN an open case for six years in May, and they have not solved the Grindstone Smokehouse fire. Why hasn’t that re-opened, anyway? I can only hazard a guess with the “undetermined cause” of that fire.

Quoting Westland Fire Marshal Kelly Eggers via hometownlife.com (LeAnne Rogers)

“I can’t give you a whole lot of information. At this point we are listing it as undetermined,” Westland Fire Marshal Kelly Eggers said. “We know where the fire started and it shouldn’t have started there.” An electrical fire was being looked at as a possible cause for the blaze. “The insurance company had an electrical engineer out to confirm or discredit that theory,” Eggers said. “He said no way it was an electrical event.”

It is time for someone to assume some responsibility for the constant embarrassments we have seen from this city in the past few years. Prisoners are dying begging on the floor in custody, and we’re not solving any of the cases that are making major news here… doesn’t that fall on the Police Chief?

Or does it fall on Mayor William R. Wild? Was he too busy running to save his seat as Mayor, and then too busy running for Congress to figure out why there are so many complaints about the Police Department?

To be clear, I don’t blame this all on the Police Chief, or the Fire Department, or the Police Officers. I blame it on exactly what I said during my last City Council campaign – that the cuts to the Police were hurting this city. Since my August 2017 primary loss, we have had a major court case with police sergeants and EMT’s fired and charged with manslaughter, because they are too stressed out or poorly trained to do their jobs ethically.

We all have eyes to see that video. No one batted an eye at Buckley’s conduct, which means it is likely the status quo. We need new voices and new people to try to repair the relationship between our police and our citizens, because a great many of our citizens do NOT trust this police department.  We are currently running a poll on our website, and at the time of writing, it had 299 votes and 58% say they do not trust the Westland Police.

And they aren’t criminals.

They are people that have followed these cases, or had experiences themselves which tell them that our police aren’t worthy of our trust. Some of them are, absolutely, I would even wager most. But we see it isn’t all. There’s two people in charge of that, and one of them is elected and not going anywhere.

Resign with dignity, Chief Jedrusik.

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