A Warren, Michigan police officer who was fired for cutting off a prisoner’s sewn-on hair weave has been rehired, with backpay.
22-year-old Charda Gregory was arrested for a misdemeanor offense of destruction of property on Nov. 13, 2013 for allegedly destroying a television set during a party at the Suez Motel on 8 Mile Rd.
After police say Gregory kicked out the window of the responding police car, she was pepper-sprayed and charged with the felony of malicious destruction of police property.
Surveillance video from the police station shows Warren Police Officer Bernadette Najor strap Gregory to a restraint chair. As the woman struggles, Najor proceeds to cut out Gregory’s sewn-in hair extensions. It takes just over 3 minutes before Najor finishes with the scissors.
“She’s a very horrible person,” said Gregory of officer Najor. Gregory says Najor left her with bald spots from the forced removal of her hair weave.
“Borderline sadistic, highly demeaning, and without any justification that I can see,” Gregory’s lawyer, Paul Misukewicz said.
When police command found out, Najor was put on leave and then fired on Dec. 12. “This type of behavior is not tolerated at the Warren Police Department,” Commissioner Jere Green said in 2014.
But Najor wanted her job back, so her police union appealed her termination through something called binding arbitration. Instead of fighting it out in court, employment matters are often decided by lawyers who listen to both sides and then make a decision.
An arbitrator issued a 26 page opinion, ordering Warren to not only give Najor her job back, but to give her more than $86,000 in back pay courtesy of the taxpayers.
“I don’t know what video she was watching, because in the arbitrator’s opinion she puts down that somewhere in the video my client appeared to be combative with Officer Najor. And the video, clearly shows that she was not,” said Misukewicz.
The arbitrator justifies Najor’s actions by saying Gregory was “combative”, relying on Najor’s claims that Gregory “threw a forearm” at Najor and kicked her.
The arbitrator did admit that the incident cannot be seen in the video, as did Commissioner Green when he fired Najor in 2014.”I don’t see her demonstrating any violent behavior,” Green said.
Officer Najor maintains it was an ‘unwritten policy’ to remove all prisoner hair extensions unless they’re permanently attached to someone’s head to prevent suicide attempts.
Officer Najor refused to talk to local reporters but her lawyer released this statement:
Officer Bernadette Najor has served the Warren Police Department with honor over the past 12 years. Last year, she was wrongly accused of mistreating a female prisoner, and recently [was] exonerated fully in an arbitration proceeding conducted by a neutral trier of fact. She will not be re-litigating this in the media because as the arbitrator pointed out in her 26-page opinion… the media coverage was “sensationalized with factual inaccuracies and arguable distortions.” Let us be clear that Officer Najor denies emphatically any mistreatment of any prisoners or anyone else during her 12 years with the Warren Police Department. Again, we emphasize she has been fully exonerated.
Local news coverage containing raw footage: