Wednesday, October 7, 2020



A Saginaw man has filed complaints with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Michigan State Police, alleging troopers targeted and threatened him during a traffic stop this summer. 

Stephen J. Houston, a 27-year-old Black man, cited racial discrimination in filing the complaint against the two white troopers with the civil rights department. Based on video of the incident and interviews with Houston, the traffic stop became tense and aggressive when troopers asked for his registration, Houston opened the center console to retrieve it and one of the troopers saw a handgun. Michigan law calls for a concealed pistol license holder to immediately alert police to a licensed gun. Houston told MLive/The Saginaw News that he was scared for his life because the troopers approached the vehicle so quickly and didn’t disclose that he had the licensed gun in the truck. 

One of the troopers in the video says he should have told them he had a gun. “They rushed my car so fast,” Houston said. “They pulled their guns on me and threatened to blow my head off, when I was giving them my information. I didn’t have a chance to do anything. They had no reason for doing what they did.” Tensions flared during the roughly half-hour interaction during which troopers pointed their guns at Houston, pulled him from his vehicle and detained him. 

One of the troopers also swore at Houston multiple times, according to the video. The troopers did not arrest him or issue a citation. They also did not confiscate his handgun. The incident started in the late afternoon of July 11 when Houston was pulled over by two Michigan State Police troopers while driving his blue 2017 Dodge Ram on 27th Street in Buena Vista Township for improperly passing another moving vehicle. Dashboard camera footage from the troopers' patrol vehicle was obtained by attorney Janey J. Lamar via the Freedom of Information Act, who then shared it with MLive. At this point, the Michigan State Police is declining to comment on the situation, but the troopers have been identified via video footage and Houston’s complaint as Paul E. Arrowood and Gregory Berta. 

The MDCR did confirm it received a complaint from Houston. The complaint is also under review by the MSP’s Professional Standards Section. In the MDCR complaint form filled out by Houston, he indicated he was discriminated against the troopers because of his race. 

 The incident occurred after weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality and unrest following the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. Since Floyd’s death, the country has been experiencing a reckoning regarding police funding, systemic racism and law enforcement’s treatment of Black citizens.

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