Monday, November 19, 2001

Chief Douglas Wright - Benton Harbor PD

Chief Douglas Wright charged with obstruction of a police investigation, in regards to his August 02, 2001 domestic violence assault against his wife.

Also See: Chief Wright charged with domestic violence:

Police chief charged
Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2001 12:00 am
Updated: 4:58 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
By MIKE RUPERT / H-P Staff Writer
The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH -- Benton Harbor Police Chief Douglas Wright is being charged with domestic violence for allegedly assaulting his wife and attempted obstruction of justice for trying to interfere with the investigation when police were called.

Wright, 59, allegedly used his position as police chief to "influence and/or obstruct a criminal investigation" into his alleged assault on his wife in the early morning of Aug. 2, according to a warrant issued Nov. 19.

Wright is visiting a sick relative in Nashville, Tenn., and is expected to turn himself in when he returns to the state next week, State Police Det. Lt. John Slenk said Tuesday.

Wright could not be reached by The Herald-Palladium for comment Tuesday or this morning.

If convicted, Wright could face up to 2 1/2 years in prison and $5,000 in fines for the felony attempted obstruction of justice charge, and 93 days in jail and $500 in fines for the misdemeanor assault charge.

Lucy Wright called 911, which rang into the Benton Harbor Police Department, around midnight on Aug. 2 to report Wright assaulted her at the couple's home at 1118 Colfax, according to court documents. Douglas Wright was not living at the house at the time.

Lucy Wright asked that the dispatcher contact an outside agency and that the department notify the Berrien County Sheriff's Department, documents said. She called the Benton Harbor police station a second time and directly asked for a sheriff's deputy to come to the house.

Douglas Wright also called the Benton Harbor Police Department and told a dispatcher the physical fight was between his wife and his adult son, Donald Wright, who is Lucy's stepson, and he told the dispatcher to disregard the call, documents said.

Benton Harbor Police Sgt. Raynard Shurn, who was already headed to the home, returned to the station before arriving there, Slenk said.

Lucy Wright called the Benton Harbor police a third time, again requesting that police come to the house.

Wright came to the Benton Harbor police station and directed dispatch to contact state police and to ask troopers to respond to the station, not to the Wrights' home.

First Lieutenant Jerry Sunday, commander of the Bridgman state police post, said troopers were called to the Benton Harbor police station about 3 a.m. and took statements from the chief and his son, who had been in the house at the time of the alleged assault.

Although Douglas Wright greeted the troopers with the information that his wife was filing the complaint, Sunday said Wright claimed his wife assaulted him. Douglas Wright said he and his wife were arguing over a financial matter. When the argument turned physical, Wright said he pushed her to defend himself, documents said.

Troopers went to the Wrights' house to take Lucy's statement. She told troopers that Wright grabbed her by the throat and swung at her with his right hand, documents said.

Donald Wright told troopers he found his father on top of his stepmother and pulled him away to keep her from kicking him.

Sunday said troopers observed no marks of a struggle on Douglas or Lucy Wright.

Berrien County Prosecutor Jim Cherry was called at home between 3:30 and 4 a.m. and told state police that, based on the information they had relayed, there was not enough evidence to arrest anyone. Cherry asked for written reports.

Cherry deferred the case to Allegan County Prosecutor Fred Anderson, who recommended the two charges on Nov. 15.

Cherry said he sought a special prosecutor because he works closely with Wright and did not feel it would be appropriate for him to review the case. Anderson said Tuesday he would not comment on the charges until an arrest was made.

Berrien County Family Court officials on Tuesday said that Lucy Wright took out a personal protection order against her husband shortly after the incident.

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