Chelsa Wagner, husband give their side in confrontation with Detroit police
Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and her husband on Saturday recounted their version of what happened early Wednesday during a confrontation with Detroit police.
Their story contradicts the way Detroit police Chief James Craig characterized the encounter, in which Wagner’s husband, Khari Mosley, was handcuffed after being locked out of the couple’s hotel room and Wagner ended up in jail with bruises on her body from the encounter with police.
As of Saturday, neither had been charged.
“The mischaracterizations are so gross and, really, so appalling after a really appalling experience that’s appalling in its own right,” Wagner said Saturday, when she and Mosley spent the afternoon sharing their story and footage from her cellphone at their Point Breeze home.
Wagner, 42, and Mosley, 43, went to Detroit for a concert that was supposed to be a post-Valentine’s Day getaway.
They went to the show, had dinner and several glasses of wine over the course of several hours.
Both denied being intoxicated during the encounter.
They arrived back at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel after 11 p.m. Tuesday. Wagner went up to the room while Mosley remained behind and went to the bar. After a period of time — Mosley didn’t know how long — he planned to go up to the room when he realized he didn’t have a room key.
The staff at the hotel wouldn’t give Mosley another and couldn’t awaken Wagner if they called the room, Mosley said.
Wagner said she was enjoying a night away from their children, planning to get a good night’s sleep, and had her cellphone on “do not disturb.”
Her staff and family in Pittsburgh knew where she was staying and they could contact the hotel in an emergency, Wagner said.
Wagner said she was “shocked and horrified” when she was awoken from a deep sleep by five men who included hotel security and Detroit police — and her husband, who was handcuffed.
“My first memory of waking up is the impression of all these guys at the door and my husband in handcuffs,” Wagner said. “I’m a guest at a hotel who was basically taken out of her bed and sleep after two hours because they wouldn’t recognize that two people can check into a hotel and have different last names, and any other differences that they wouldn’t be comfortable with,” Wagner said.
The couple disputed Craig’s characterizations of events that was streamed live Friday on Facebook.
Craig said both Wagner and Mosley exhibited signs of intoxication and that Wagner placed her hands on an officer “six or seven times” before she was arrested.
Wagner disputes that, and the video she made with her phone could provide evidence.
“There are conflicting statements by the chief of police that’s making it sound as if we had some type of argument or domestic,” Wagner said Saturday.
That wasn’t the case, Wagner and Mosley said, and Mosley never returned to the room once they left for the concert.
Wagner’s reaction to the chief’s comments was “just really disbelief,” she said.
“Because you have such malignment of myself, my husband, my family, by things I know are not true,” Wagner said. “it’s trauma on top of trauma to have to have such a horrific experience and be characterized by innuendo as somebody who’s there because of domestic violence or something like that or intoxication.”
Detroit police sent a warrant request to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, and Assistant Prosecutor Marie Miller released a statement saying the office is reviewing the request.
A decision on whether charges are warranted has not been made.
Detroit officials didn’t return messages seeking comment Saturday.
Because she has yet to be charged, Wagner said she didn’t know how she and Mosely would proceed.
Her attorney, Heather Heidelbaugh, is investigating. She has asked the hotel to preserve any video evidence.
Wagner acknowledged that what happened might have an impact on her professional and political career, but she said what is most important to her is her family and the damage to her and her husband’s reputations.
“The hardest thing for me in many ways is having these discussions with our children and knowing they see things and they’re traumatized by it,” Wagner said. “The personal impact is very significant, and it’s still playing out.
“To me, the most important thing is to make sure my family is OK.”
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .