Editorial

The Observer-Reporter building in Washington

Old enough to know better.

That phrase comes to mind when reading about the fiasco in Detroit last week involving Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and her husband, Khari Mosley, leading police to ask prosecutors to bring assault charges against Wagner.

Wagner’s attorney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that police officers involved in the fray were the aggressors, but there’s certainly some doubt about that, based on police video of the confrontation that was reviewed by The Detroit News.

The only thing that’s not in dispute is that Wagner and her husband attended a concert on the night in question, and after they returned to the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, Wagner went to their room and Mosley headed to the hotel bar. From there, the stories diverge.

Detroit police Chief James Craig says officers were called to the hotel because Mosley became “loud and belligerent.” Mosley reportedly told officers that he was a guest at the hotel, but the room apparently was in Wagner’s name, and because Mosley has a different last name, officers put him in the back of a police cruiser while they went to check with Wagner.

The Post-Gazette reported the following, based on what was shown on police video:

“Officers, accompanied by hotel security, then go to Ms. Wagner’s room. The door is ajar, so they walk in and ask Ms. Wagner to verify that she knows Mr. Mosley. Ms. Wagner doesn’t answer at first, but giggles repeatedly, prompting one officer to say, ‘She’s toast,’ as another asks her, ‘You been drinking?’ Ms. Wagner continues giggling.”

According to the P-G, video later shows an officer taking Mosley out of the squad car, and he repeatedly says, “Hands up, don’t shoot, I’m not a threat.”

An officer asks Mosley, “Why you got to be so loud?” and another calls him “brother.” Mosley says, “Y’all treated me like a second-class citizen. Don’t even come with that brother (expletive). Y’all didn’t treat me like an African American who’s been here for 400 years. Detroit is bull (expletive).”

In another section of the video, Wagner is shown grabbing an officer’s arms and swearing at the officer. “Ma’am, why are your hands on me? You’re on camera,” says the officer, and Wagner says multiple times, “This is my hotel room. Please, Tase me.”

Later, she grapples with an officer who, based on the published reports, appears to shove Wagner away, and she falls to the ground. The reports say she screamed, “I just want to know the reason you just assaulted me. I want my attorney ... Let me tell you something, I’m the highest ranking (expletive) female elected official (in Allegheny County).”

At that point, Wagner was handcuffed and taken to jail. Hotel employees told officers they didn’t want Mosley staying there, so he got a room at another hotel nearby.

If charges are filed, Wagner certainly will get her chance to have her say in court, and if she wishes, she and her husband can file a civil action against Detroit police.

However, it would seem her best bet is to do whatever is necessary to put this incident behind her as quickly as possible, because regardless of how this might play out, it is definitely unseemly and embarrassing for Allegheny County’s highest ranking female elected official.

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