People v. Harold Spencer, Jr.

Following a raid by Detroit Police, pursuant to a search warrant, Harold Spencer, Jr., was arrested and charged with ten criminal charges, including controlled substance and weapon offenses. People v. Harold Spencer, Jr., Wayne County Circuit Court No. 17-002515091-FH. He faced at least twenty years in prison.

As defense counsel David S. Steingold developed and investigated the case, he determined that there were discrepancies between the alleged facts in the affidavit for search warrant and those facts related to him by his client. One key factual averment by a Detroit Police officer was that Mr. Spencer’s girlfriend was driving a specific car on a specific day.

Mr. Steingold learned that a Draeger Ignition Interlock System had been previously installed in that car due to Mr. Spencer having been earlier convicted of a driving-under-the-influence offense. Mr. Steingold consulted with Hansuell Ryser, who had developed the Draeger System, and found that there are over 3,000 Draeger Systems in use in Michigan and over 300,000 worldwide, and there had never been a report of a false result from the Draeger System. The Draeger System, among other things, takes a picture of anyone who attempts to start a vehicle in which the system is installed and checks the vehicle status throughout the day, 24/7.

The Draeger System showed, conclusively, that no one had driven the specific car on that specific day.

After seeking and obtaining additional discovery materials, and receiving nothing fruitful from Internal Affairs, Mr. Steingold chose to proceed with a motion to quash instead of a motion to suppress. At the hearing, Mr. Ryser provided testimony about the Draeger System. When it came time for the Detroit Police officer, Sergeant Hameed Mohamed, to testify, it was learned that – on advice of his counsel – Sergeant Mohamed would instead assert his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The charges were thereafter dismissed without prejudice on November 10, 2017.  Charges against Sergeant Mohamed have not been filed.

Mr. Spencer filed a civil suit in the Wayne County Circuit Court against Sergeant Mohamed and others in July 2018; the civil case was subsequently removed to federal court in August 2018.

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor