Criminal charges may be pending
By Mary Drier
BAY COUNTY — The investigation on wrong-doing allegations against three Bay City Police officers, one of whom lives in Tuscola County, is complete.
Bay City Police Officers, Brian Ritchey, of Unionville, and Don Aldrich and Keath Bartynski are accused of taking the cell phone of a man who used it to take a photo and post it along on with a disparaging remark Facebook about a police car parked on the wrong side of the street. They are also accused of abusing their authority when they acted on that May 2 incident at Steamer’s Bar in Bay City.
The victim reported the incident to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. His allegations were forwarded to the Michigan Sheriff’s Association Mission Team for an impartial review.
That investigation is complete. According to preliminary information from the report, the allegations against the police officers have been confirmed.
The Tuscola County Advertiser sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Bay County Clerk’s office for a copy of the report. When the internal report from the clerk’s office is received, there will be an updated article with more information forthcoming.
By state law, the clerk’s office has five days to provide the requested FOIA information and/or an explanation why it will take longer to do so.
When the investigation on the incident started, Ritchey, Aldrich, and Bartynski were each placed on administrative leave with pay. As internal and criminal investigation was wrapping up, the three officers each resigned from their positions.
Bay County Attorney Jason Gower, who is representing the victim who doesn’t wish to be identified, explained his client’s complaint this way:
The incident started when his client noticed a police vehicle, allegedly driven by Ritchey, parked on the wrong side of the street.
He took a photo of it and placed it on Facebook with the post, “Bay City’s finest illegally parked so hey can flirt with a Bay City bartender, keep it up Brian Ritchey… you’re doing our city proud,” explained Gower.
Gower noted there was some clowning-around comments between the victim, Ritchey, and Aldrich, who was off duty and also at the bar, about his being a “marked man” and to “step outside…” etc..; but the good-natured mood changed when Ritchey left the bar and returned with Bartynski.
“At that point, the officers put their hands on my client pushing him against the bar, twisted his arm behind his back, taking him outside, searching him, and placed him in the cruiser before eventually releasing him,” said Gower. “He tried recording it on his cell phone but it was either knocked or taken out of his hand.
“They (officers) were acting with a gang mentality – intimating and abusive. Others in the bar video recorded what happened and shows the victim’s cell phone was in the hand of Aldrich at one point.”
It was claimed the cell phone was then given to a bartender but it wasn’t found. It had over 2,000 photos on it.
“The city has offered to pay over $600 to replace the phone and for damages but that doesn’t cover the distress the loss of those irreplaceable photos, and the way he was treated in being publicly humiliated front of others,” said Gower.
When the incident escalated, other people at the tavern started recording what happened between the three police officers and the victim.
Gower contends the video shows criminal wrong doing – such as assault and battery, unlawful search, and larceny; and if a criminal case isn’t forthcoming from that, then civil charges can be field.
Also, the matter is being reviewed by the state’s Attorney Generals office for possible criminal charges.
Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at email@example.com.