Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and her husband both appeared drunk as they interacted with police inside a Detroit hotel, the city’s police chief said Friday.
Chief James Craig, during a press conference that was streamed live on Facebook, said video footage of a confrontation in the Weston Book Cadillac Hotel early Wednesday indicates that Wagner and her husband, Khari Mosley, exhibited “some levels of intoxication” when police responded to a report that Mosley was drunk and causing a disturbance.
Craig’s account of the incident conflicted directly with how Wagner’s lawyer — Heather Heidelbaugh — described the events that happened as the couple visited Detroit for a belated Valentine’s Day celebration.
Heidelbaugh said Thursday that Wagner, 42, of Point Breeze never touched the officers and was essentially assaulted by police.
Craig on Friday said Wagner placed her hands on an officer “six or seven times” before she was arrested, blocked an elevator door and refused to move as police were escorting Mosley, 43, out of the hotel. Police arrested her after she again touched one of the officers, he said.
“They get to the elevator, and the wife blocks the door,” the chief said. “They ask her to move away from the door of the open elevator. She continues to stay there. At some point she puts her hand on the officer, and the officer takes the wife to the ground. You could hear in the video, ‘Be careful.’ It almost seemed as if he was trying to break her fall.”
Craig said Wagner was handcuffed, arrested for assault and battery and taken into custody without incident.
Heidelbaugh said prosecutors would ultimately decide whether to charge her client.
“The chief also stated that there are things he may have overlooked,” she said in a statement. “Therefore, we still have no formal information to review from the authorities in Detroit, as no charges have been filed.”
Earlier in the day, she issued a statement saying Wagner spent Friday morning at her doctor’s office. She said Thursday that Wagner suffered bruises and an injured wrist during the police encounter. She said Wagner intended to spend Friday afternoon with her young children.
“Controller Wagner is anxious to address the public and provide her accounting of the events,” Heidelbaugh said. “Controller Wagner will be addressing the public in the near future, and thanks to everyone for their concern and respect for her and her family’s need to recuperate and reconnect.”
Police sent a warrant request to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office on Friday. Assistant Prosecutor Marie Miller released a statement saying the office is reviewing the request and that a decision on whether charges are warranted would likely come sometime after Friday.
Craig said police initially intended to handle the situation without an arrest. He said Mosley cursed at the officers and hotel security, but they escorted him back to the room and intended to leave.
When they arrived they found the door ajar, he said. They confirmed Mosley was Wagner’s husband, started to leave, but heard loud banging from the room, Craig said.
“Hotel security made a decision based on some loud banging noise that he could not stay at the hotel,” Craig said. “The officers returned to the room and in a very respectful way advised that we’re going to have to escort your husband out because the hotel does not want him to stay.”
Craig said Wagner at one point identified herself as “the highest ranking political official in the county where she serves.”
Heidelbaugh on Thursday said the Wagner awoke to a knock at her hotel door and found police with Mosley in handcuffs.
She said Mosley misplaced his room key and encountered hotel security and police when he attempted to get a key from the front desk. The hotel refused to give him a key because the room was registered in Wagner’s name and Mosley’s last name did not match hers.
Heidelbaugh said an officer threw Wagner to the ground for no reason when she attempted to enter an elevator with police and her husband.