WARREN, Mich. - Cut on Camera: a Michigan cop – yanking a young mother’s head back and hacking off her hair.
The exclusive story behind an incident inside the Warren, Michigan jail that was caught on video comes from our Scripps sister station 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.
At many jails, prisoners are required to remove hair extensions that clip in because they could be used as a weapon or to commit suicide.
But Charda Gregory didn’t have clip in extensions. She had a weave that was sewn right into her real hair.
Charda Gregory is a young mother who loves her hair. And the 22-year-old hair dresser loves changing her style often by using weaves.
But Gregory’s hair changed dramatically after an encounter with a Warren Police Officer.
Even though there’s no audio on the video from inside the Warren Jail, you can see Gregory kick her legs and writhe in pain as the officer plunges scissors into her hair, hacking away at the weave that was sewn into braids on her scalp.
So how did this all begin?
“I was confused. I didn’t know what happened and what was going on,” said Gregory.
Gregory says on November 13, she went to a party in Detroit, where she believes someone drugged her.
Paul Misukewicz is her lawyer:
“She had a couple of drinks, then woke up in a strange place. Didn’t know how she got there, completely disoriented, said Paul Misukewicz, Gregory’s lawyer.
That strange place was the Suez Motel on 8 Mile in Warren, where Gregory got arrested for trashing a room.
By the time she was brought in to the jail lock-up on the top floor of the Warren Police Department, Gregory had been pepper sprayed, but she appears calm.
It’s clear in the video that Gregory can barely stand as she comes face to face with Officer Bernadette Najor.
“She took it upon herself to get the scissors. And for whatever reason, decided that she was going to butcher my client,” said Misukewicz.
As Officer Najor pats Gregory down, the officer pushes Gregory against the wall twice.
Suddenly Najor starts going for Gregory’s hair. The officers struggle with Gregory, dragging her over to a restraining chair to tie down her arms and legs.
Officer Najor starts yanking Gregory’s head from side to side, chopping out chunks of hair. It takes 3 full minutes before Najor gives one final yank and removes what’s left of Gregory’s weave.
Gregory tells us in some places she now has bald spots because Najor ripped her real hair out by the roots.
“She’s a very horrible person,” said Gregory about Officer Najor.
“No words can describe how I feel about that right now. I’d rather not say exactly how I feel about that, I’m just very upset,” said Yolanda Ford, Gregory’s mother.
As the son of a retired Warren police officer, Misukewicz says he’s never seen anything like this.
“I guess the best way to describe it would be sadistic. There’s absolutely no reason for it. And it’s demeaning,” said Misukewicz.
“There’s a real simple thing: it’s called right and wrong. And to me this is something that I won’t tolerate, I don’t think the citizens of Warren will tolerate it,” said Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green. Green says Najor’s explanation that she had to remove Gregory’s weave because of alleged threats of suicide makes no sense.
“I don’t buy that’s the proper way to treat a human being. I don’t think it’s decent, I don’t think there was any reason to do it, and when I look at it – that bothers me,” said Green.
Green says as soon as he learned about the incident, he placed Najor on leave and she has since been fired.
“Is this the first time she’s had discipline problems,” asked Catallo.
“No,” said Green.
“Can you tell us about the past experiences with this officer,” asked Catallo.
“No I can’t,” said Green, citing restrictions on what he can legally say about a former employee.
But 7 Action News obtained Officer Najor’s personnel records – that show she was suspended without pay for 10 days in 2010 for being “untruthful.”
Despite several attempts to reach Najor by phone, she refused to talk to us when we caught up with her, instead screaming at Catallo as she tried to get Najor’s side of the story:
“If that camera is on me I will call the police! Call 911 right now!”
Meanwhile, because of what happened in the jail, all of the criminal charges against Charda Gregory have been dismissed.
“I believe it’s a travesty that someone in that position feels that they have the authority to abuse it. And I’m just very glad that she’s not able to do it to someone else,” said Ford.
The other officers who were present during Officer Najor’s haircutting incident are still under investigation and facing possible discipline.
Warren police officials say while those officers did not intervene, they did report Najor’s use of force to their superiors. Officer Najor did not report what she did that night.
Warren Police complied very quickly with the 7 Investigator’s requests for information about this incident, and did not try to hide what happened inside the jail.
“The men and women of this department are high-caliber, they’re ethical, they’re moral, they consider the rights of prisoners, of the citizens they come in contact with,” said Green. “What I want to communicate to the public is, the Warren Police Department doesn’t tolerate this kind of behavior, and we take it immediate action when something occurs. We are always in the process of reviewing things that happen, and trying to make ourselves better and more responsible to the people we work for.”