HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (FOX 2) - Protesters gathered in Highland Park on Thursday to denounce the hiring of James Tolbert as new deputy police chief after Tolbert was accused but never convicted of framing a Detroit teen for killing four people back in 2007.
The protestors say Tolbert's alleged unethical professional past as a member of Detroit's Police Department disqualifies him for this position.
"He framed a young male -- 14 years old back '07 -- and now he's able to be the deputy chief police here in Highland Park," said Debra Simmons with Moratorium Now.
That young man this activist is talking about is Davontae Sanford. The Wayne County Prosecutors Office decided not to charge former deputy police chief Tolbert with perjury after he was accused of lying under oath about evidence that helped to wrongly convict Sanford of killing four people in Detroit. Sanford has since been released from prison after a judge erased his guilty pleas.
"He never should be able to wear a uniform again," Simmons said.
These protestors say after Tolbert was fired from Detroit's Police Department he was later hired to be the Chief of Police in Flint, but when Karen Weaver, the city's current mayor was elected, she restructured the police department and Tolbert resigned. Protestors say now it's time for Tolbert to leave Highland Park. But city leaders say they don't buy these accusations and will not side with street justice.
"Mr. Tolbert has not been convicted. Them? They're not the law. They're not a jury so why should I listen to this street justice?" said Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp.
In fact, the mayor says he does his research before bringing anyone on staff.
"Every employee I vet before I hire. There's no convictions that I can find anywhere on Mr. Tolbert," said Yopp said.
Fox 2 requested an interview with Tolbert and we were told he was not commenting. But protestors say they won't give up their fight.
"We're calling on city council, we're calling on the mayor, we're calling on the chief to put an end to this," Simmons said.
"You can't try a man in the street," Yopp said. We have a system here and it works for all of us not just some of us."