Officer David Gronin convicted of domestic violence
Woman files a lawsuit against cop, city
Published: Sunday, August 14, 2005
By Andrea Blum
SOUTHGATE — A lawsuit alleging a civil rights violation has been filed against the city by a woman accusing a police officer of brutality.
It is the second lawsuit against a police officer in less than a year.
The federal lawsuit charges Officer David Grondin with violating the civil rights of Christine Branum during an Oct. 1, 2004, visit police made to her house in the 14100 block of Fordline.
Grondin and two other officers responded to a domestic dispute call at the house.
The argument had ended when police arrived, but Grondin forced his way into the house to speak to Branum's boyfriend, according to the lawsuit.
It claims that Grondin grabbed the woman by the neck, kicked her and beat her while using abusive and vulgar language.
Branum is accusing Grondin of violating her Fourth Amendment rights and seeks at least $75,000 in damages.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against "unreasonable search and seizure."
No arrests were made in the incident.
No charges were filed against Grondin after an investigation by the Michigan State Police and the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office found insufficient evidence.
Grondin had been fired from the department in March 2003 for several reasons, including insubordination and a 2002 domestic assault charge involving his ex-wife and another man.
He returned to the force in November 2003 after winning an arbitration dispute with the city and was on probation in that case when the October incident took place.
Police Chief Larry Hall recommended firing Grondin, but Mayor Dennis David suspended him for five days.
"If you don't address these matters, they will come back," Hall said.
David said the issue being brought up is pure politics because he's running for re-election against the police chief's wife, Suzanne Hall.
"This has been going on since the day I took office," David said.
David beat incumbent Suzanne Hall two years ago in her re-election bid for the mayor's post.
The police chief dismisses the political aspect, saying that it's a matter of Dennis undermining his authority.
"I don't feel like I have any backing from City Hall," Hall said.
This isn't the first time the mayor and police chief have clashed over disciplining an officer.
The two butted heads earlier this year over the punishment for Patrolman Brian Klonowski, who pleaded guilty to punching a woman at a party last year in Romulus.
In that case, a Dearborn Heights woman is suing Klonowski, not the city, because he was off duty when the incident occurred.
Klonowski was serving a one-year suspension when David reduced the penalty to 90 days, saying that was the deal originally offered. Hall disagreed.
"My ability to discipline has been totally eroded," Hall said. "Everything I try to do is subject to being overridden by the mayor."
David, a former police officer, said he isn't backing down from his decisions.
"The actions I've taken for this and any other incident, I stand by," he said.
David doesn't agree with those who say Grondin doesn't belong on the department.
"That's outrageous," David said. "Officers make mistakes. There is no other community around here that has a pristine police department.
"They just happen to have chiefs that stand by them, not take them out in public and spank them."The five-day suspension was more than what the Public Safety Commission recommended, according to David.
"They said he needed to have some kind of incident management training," David said.
"They said the police chief was the one at fault for not training that officer."
Hall counters that the commission is made up of David's appointees and can only give recommendations.
Branum's attorney, Christopher Trainor, said the city should be held responsible for its actions.
"What the mayor and city commission did speaks for itself," Trainor said. "This guy shouldn't be on the force anymore."
He rebuked the claim that the lawsuit was brought to light for political reasons.
"That's ridiculous," he said. "This has nothing to do with any election.
"I know that information I have indicates that this guy is a bad cop."
City Attorney Jack Timmony said Branum's claims are simply allegations right now.
"There's been no finding of liability," he said. "That will be determined in court."
Officer reinstated to job
Published: Wednesday, November 12, 2003
By Andrea Blum, The News-Herald
SOUTHGATE -- A former police officer is back on the force.
David Grondin resumed his duties as a police officer after winning an arbitration dispute with the city.
He was fired from the department March 27 after working there for three years.
Grondin was let go for insubordination stemming from several department issues, in addition to a domestic assault involving his ex-wife and another man, police said.
The union asked to take the matter to arbitration. The three-day hearing wrapped up Friday, with Grondin getting his job back on a probationary period.
"It was a negotiated settlement between the union and the city," Police Chief Larry Hall said. "He has been reassigned to a shift and is returning to work."
Grondin maintained that he was fired unfairly and fought to return to his job.
"I'm happy to be back and to be given a second chance," he said.
The settlement reinstates Grondin without any back pay or back benefits. It also places him on probation for another year.
"With the grievant wanting to come back to work in the city, it was decided that a year off without pay was a significant sanction," City Attorney Wallace Long said.
"The city is agreeing to go forward on this trial basis with him being on probation."
Arbitrator Mario Chiesa helped the two sides negotiate.
"Discussions ranged all over the place as to what had occurred," Long added.
"It's fair to say that after a long and healthy airing of all the issues surrounding his conduct, both parties thought it was in the best interest to resolve it in this fashion."