Officer allowed to quit quietly after marijuana brownie case

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http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007305090002

listen to this. http://media.freep.com/audio/2007/0510potcop_freep.mp3

May 9, 2007

BY JENNIFER DIXON

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Dearborn police declined to pursue criminal charges against one of its officers last year, even after the cop admitted to taking marijuana from criminal suspects and, with his wife, cooking it up in brownies.

Then-Cpl. Edward Sanchez was allowed to resign from the department, but he was not charged with a crime. He declined to comment Wednesday.
His wife, Stacy Sanchez, admitted to police investigators that on another occasion she removed cocaine from her husband’s police cruiser — drugs purportedly earmarked to train police dogs — and used it during a three-week binge. She, too, has not been charged criminally. Dearborn Police Cmdr. Jeff Geisinger left a phone message with Free Press reporting partner Local 4-WDIV saying Sanchez resigned during an internal investigation. Geisinger did not return subsequent calls asking why Sanchez was not prosecuted.

The decision not to charge Sanchez upset Dearborn Councilman Doug Thomas, who said the department’s inaction sends the wrong message to the public.

“If you’re a cop and you’re arresting people and you’re confiscating the marijuana and keeping it yourself, that’s bad. That’s real bad. That’s like apprehending a bank robber and keeping some of the money for yourself.”

He promised to investigate.

“It doesn’t add up here,” Thomas said. “If he was allowed to resign with no action, he can apply for another police position. There’s all kinds of ramifications.”

The department’s investigation began with a bizarre 911 call from Sanchez’s home in Dearborn Heights. On the night of April 21, 2006, a panicky Sanchez told an emergency dispatcher he thought he and his wife were overdosing on marijuana.

“I think we’re dying,” he said in the 5-minute tape, obtained under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

“We made brownies and I think we’re dead, I really do,” Sanchez continued.

He told the dispatcher he had never made marijuana brownies before, but had previously used marijuana.

Then, he asked the score of the Red Wings game on television that night, explaining, “I just want to make sure this isn’t some type of, like, hallucination that I’m having.”

When later questioned by police investigators, Sanchez said his wife took the marijuana out of his police vehicle while he was sleeping, but she told investigators she tricked him into eating a pot-laced brownie.

“Cpl. Sanchez was insistent that he would never ingest marijuana or any narcotics intentionally,” an investigator wrote.

But in a subsequent interview, Sanchez acknowledged he fetched the marijuana from his car, put it in the brownie mix, and ate the brownies.

Sanchez also said he took the marijuana “off the street from unknown persons,” investigators wrote.

“I questioned him in detail about how many times and what types of narcotics he seized without arrest,” the report said. “He was adamant that he only seized marijuana, and it was on a few occasions. Cpl. Sanchez stated that it had been over a year since he seized this marijuana and that the marijuana was taken to train his K-9,” or drug-sniffing dog.

Wayne State University criminal law professor David Moran said Sanchez’s behavior was problematic — as was the Police Department’s decision not to charge him.

“An officer has a duty to enforce the law and if an officer finds someone in possession of illegal narcotics, he has a duty to seize the narcotics, arrest the persons … and properly dispose of the contraband if no charges end up being filed,” Moran said.

Moran said it is a criminal offense in Michigan for officers to fail to perform their duties.

“It is not as unusual as it should be for the police to look the other way when an officer commits an infraction, but this is a lot worse than the average police officer speeding a little bit,” Moran said.

Contact JENNIFER DIXON at 313-223-4410 or jbdixon@freepress.com.
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