A Macomb County police officer terminated for cutting a restrained suspect’s weave has been rehired, the Macomb Daily reports. A legal arbitrator ruled that Bernadette Najor (pictured far right) be reinstated with retroactive pay and full benefits, nearly a year after the Warren Police Department fired her for the incident.
“The arbitrator clearly indicated (the police administration) did not have just cause to terminate her and the arbitrator determined she did not violate any of the terms and conditions of the (employment) contract,” Najor’s lawyer Peter Sudnick, told the Macomb Daily.
In November 2013, officers arrested Charda Gregory (pictured in restraint chair) on suspicion of vandalism at Eight Mile Road’s Suez Hotel.
Shortly after arriving at the police precinct, Gregory had difficulty standing. In response, officers placed her in a restraining chair. Surveillance video then shows Najor pulling Gregory’s head back and cutting her weave for 3 minutes. Two days later, the department suspended Najor without pay. Internal Affairs and Police Commissioner Jere Green reviewed the video and concluded the hair cutting was unnecessary.
Najor contended she removed the weave to protect Gregory and others.
The Commissioner fired Najor in December 2013, concluding she used excessive force. The Warren Police Officers Association immediately disputed the dismissal. They noted that the department lacks a policy against removing hair weaves.
Arbitrator Nora Lynch wrote in her ruling that “The grievant (Najor) testified that she had heard the prisoner make remarks about suicide, and even though she didn’t think the prisoner was serious, she decided to take the precautionary action of removing the weave to make sure that the prisoner did not use the weave to hurt herself or others,” the Macomb Daily reported.
In addition Lynch felt that since the video lacked audio, the department had inadequate evidence against Najor.
“To view the video without the benefit of an audio component and without carefully weighing the accounts of officers who were present does not reflect the reality of what occurred. The officers, who were interviewed separately, gave consistent accounts, agreeing that the prisoner was combative and resistant and their actions to control her did not involve the use of excessive force,” she added.
Though officials called Najor’s actions a “scalping,” the WPOA said they overreacted and blamed Najor to deflect public criticism against the department.
Though Gregory faced no charges for her actions in the lockup, officials did charge her with a misdemeanor for reportedly ripping a TV from the hotel wall. She explained her actions by claiming someone drugged her at a Detroit party.
Gregory’s attorney managed to negotiate a settlement where the city paid her $75,000 and dropped the malicious destruction of property charge against her. She received $50,000 directly and her attorney received $25,000 from the payout.