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Documents Offer Details of Controversial Traffic Stop, Fallout

West Bloomfield Township supervisor's husband failed breath test, but the police officer was reluctant to arrest him for fear of jeopardizing the upcoming public safety millage vote, reports state.

West Bloomfield Police Department documents released to media Monday evening reveal details of the controversial Aug. 13 traffic stop involving Township Supervisor Michele Ureste and her husband, as well as the internal investigation of the officer involved.

The four-page case report states Matthew Ureste failed a preliminary breath test with a .11 blood-alcohol content, which is above the 0.08 legal limit. An additional disciplinary memo from Police Chief Michel Patton expresses his displeasure with police officer Robert Stephens, who gave Ureste and his wife a ride home after the stop. 

Stephens should have arrested Ureste and taken him to the police station, per department policy, the memo states.

Stephens said he did not want to be the one to arrest the township supervisor's husband. He said he was worried an arrest would negatively impact an upcoming police millage vote.

"In this incident, you did not do your job well, or at all," the chief wrote to Stephens, a three-year veteran of the department, in a memo released to WDIV-TV Channel 4 and made public on its website.

As a result of that and other policy violations, Patton suspended Stephens for five days without pay.

The case report also outlines exactly what happened during the stop:

Stephens pulled over the Ford Fusion Matthew Ureste was driving when he failed to stop at a flashing red light before making a right-hand turn at Green Lake and Richardson roads around 2:20 a.m. Aug. 13, according to the case report.

After the stop, the report details the following from Stephens: Matthew Ureste was observed to have “watery eyes” and Stephens smelled alcohol. Ureste admitted he’d had “a few drinks” earlier in the evening and that he and his wife, the only passenger in the car, were on their way home from the Kid Rock concert in Detroit.

Stephens asked Ureste to take a preliminary breath test, which he failed.

“I then advised Matthew he was too intoxicated to drive home, and I offered him and Michele a ride home in my squad car,” Stephens said in the case report. “I transported Matthew and Michele to their home without incident.”

In his memo to Stephens, the chief pointed out that the officer recognized Ureste's wife. “The passenger was known to you by name and/or face as an elected Township official,” Patton wrote. 

In a memo dated Aug. 26, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office determined there was no evidence to charge Matthew Ureste with a drunk driving offense because Officer Stephens had halted the investigation after the preliminary breath test, the results of which are generally not admissible in court. And Stephens’ actions, while questionable, were not found by the prosecutor’s office to be criminal in nature.

In addition to failing to conduct a thorough investigation and/or take appropriate enforcement, Patton said Stephens also failed to advise dispatch about transporting the Urestes to their home, activate or maintain the in-car video system, properly document the incident and perform his duties in an ethical manner.

detroit masters August 31, 2011 at 03:58 AM
He should of been arrested, the vehicle impounded and forfeited. Proceeds to go to victims of drunk drivers. As a west bloomfield resident, i am completely disgusted at the fact that everyone tried to cover it up..and then they have the nerve to try and justify it all to the residents in a town hall meeting. West bloomfield residents, get off your butts and lets get these unsavory drunks thrown off their posts.

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