On the morning of June 9, police responded to reports of shots fired at a Harper Woods hotel. They arrested at least two people at the scene: Lewis Nichols, 27, who is charged with 20 felonies related to the incident, and Priscilla Slater, 37, who was arrested on an unspecified drug charge.
Slater died the next day after falling ill while in police custody.
The department has since put six public safety personnel on administrative leave: two supervisors and four civilian aides.
A Michigan State Police background check for Slater shows a June 9 arrest for one felony count related to “dangerous drugs.”
Which dangerous drug was she accused of possessing? What charge might have resulted? How did authorities come to discover the drugs allegedly in her possession?
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office won’t say.
Police had requested charges against Slater, but Maria Miller, spokeswoman for Prosecutor Kym Worthy, said the request was denied due to her death. Miller declined to share specifically what Slater is accused of, citing the ongoing investigation.
Geoffrey Fieger, attorney for the family, said Monday it doesn’t matter why Slater was arrested, that what matters is how her condition deteriorated to the point she died in police custody.
“She had to be exhibiting (symptoms) that would have required immediate medical care, and she didn’t get it,” Fieger said.
Police won’t say.
“Out of respect for her family, I won’t release the charges,” Vincent Smith, chief of Harper Woods police, said Monday in an email. “Ms. Slater would have faced felony charges if she had not passed away.”
On Friday, two days after Slater’s death, Harper Woods put out a statement announcing Lewis Nichols and been arrested three days earlier.
Police said Nichols had allegedly been firing shots outside Parkcrest Inn, on the 20000 block of Harper, which just east of Interstate 94, south of Vernier.
Hotel guests called 911 and said shots had been fired at them. No one was hit, but police would ultimately recover 18 nine-millimeter shell casings from the scene.
When Harper Woods police arrived at the scene, they found Nichols “in the rear seat of a vehicle parked in the rear parking lot of the Parkcrest Inn,” the statement said. Police arrested him and recovered the gun, the statement said.
It doesn’t mention a second arrest.
Nichols’ Michigan State Police background check notes his June 9 arrest was on suspicion of two counts of felony assault and three counts of felony weapons offenses, and one count of the same offense Slater was arrested for, “dangerous drugs.”
But all 20 of Nichols’s felony charges involve guns and violence, and none involve drugs.
“The well-being of all detainees is of the highest priority,” Harper Woods said in a statement announcing Slater’s death and the Michigan State Police investigation into it.
But other than confirming its investigation, Michigan State Police declined comment.
“We don’t discuss the details of our investigations in the media,” said Lt. Mike Shaw, a spokesman and commander for the state police, in a text message. “Once it’s completed we will forward it to the prosecutor for review.”
It’s not clear how Slater died. Autopsy results from the Wayne County Medical Examiner were not immediately available. When autopsies involve toxicology reports, they can take weeks or even months to come back.
“I will find out why she was left lying on the floor of a jail cell, with no medical care,” Fieger said.
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