Former director of Bay City’s public safety pleads not guilty on assault charges
BAY CITY, Mich. (WNEM) - Former Bay City Public Safety Director Michael Cecchini was arraigned Thursday morning on an assault charge, to which he pleaded not guilty. The charge stems from an altercation he had with an 18-year-old man back in September.
The state attorney general’s office charged Cecchini with one count of assault and battery after a video of the incident made the rounds on social media. It shows him getting into a verbal argument with a man.
Cecchini was upset with the man because he thought the man was disturbing the peace. The man was part of a group riding Bird scooters in the area and allegedly making some noise.
In that video, you can see Cecchini appearing to jab the man with his flashlight. The man told Cecchini that he hit him with a flashlight and told him that was battery and asked a bystander to call the cops.
Cecchini responded with, “Chief of police. Call the cops.”
Later in the video, Cecchini admitted to hitting the man with a flashlight and said he did it because he felt threatened.
He was placed on administrative leave shortly after the video was posted on social media.
Just a few weeks later, Cecchini announced he was retiring from the force.
Prosecutors argue Cecchini lied about not committing the act to his fellow officers.
Hemlock attorney Philip Ellison said due to a Michigan law protecting high-ranking police officials from civil assault and battery lawsuits, they had to file the lawsuit federally.
“It’s a shocking development that we just learned recently in the law in this respect that in order to get justice, we can only go to federal court,” Ellison explained. “Michigan law protects police chiefs and the highest ranking officials from assault and battery lawsuits.”
He also said this case is rare because most of the time, high-ranking officers do not commit assault and battery.
The judge set Cecchini’s pre-trial date for March 3.
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