A Shelby Township father said he "couldn't understand why it was I was about to get shot" as he recounted what he called moments of terror as an off-duty Rochester police officer allegedly pointed a gun at his chest in his driveway.
In a Patch.com interview on Thursday, the man describes how Rochester Police officer Russell Glass, who has since resigned, .
At the home, the father said, Russell pointed a gun at his chest, pointed it at a neighbor and waved it before the hysterical daughter.
“My whole body went into shock," the father said. "I remember staring down the barrel of his gun … and I couldn’t understand why it was that I was about to get shot. I just couldn’t comprehend what it was I did and why this trouble came to my house.”
To hear the full interview, click on the media player that accompanies this story, or click here.
after he was charged April 23 in 41-A District Court in Shelby Township. Glass, a Shelby Township resident and 16-year officer on the Rochester force, was arraigned on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, felony firearm possession and brandishing a firearm in public.
Glass had been placed on administrative leave by the Rochester Police Department after the incident occurred. He was one of the longest-serving members of the department; the average seniority of sworn officers in the department is 8.19 years, according to the department's 2011 Annual Report.
Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm did not wish to discuss or speculate on the particular details of the Shelby Township incident. "That's a matter for the courts," he said.
Schettenhelm said his officers participate in regular psychological screenings to prepare themselves for the rigors of the job; he said Glass did not have a history of any action similar to the one that happened on April 13.
The father's story
The father, whose identity is being kept private because he and his daughter are alleged victims in the case, told Patch the incident began on that Friday afternoon when he received a phone call from his panicked daughter as she was driving home from school.
The girl told her father that a man in a blue vehicle had been tailing her and driving a few feet away from her bumper for several minutes.
“I can’t seem to shake him and I don’t know why," the girl told her father, who insisted it might be coincidental that the man was following her.
The girl told her father that she had pulled into a subdivision and made a series of turns to see if indeed the man was following her and she was very scared.
The father told his daughter to come to him at the home, which is in the area of 24 Mile and Schoenherr roads. However, the teen told her father that she learned in driver’s education a few months earlier that “you should not show your home to someone who is following you.”
She told her father that she wanted to go to the police department but she didn’t know where it was located and she was increasingly becoming more nervous.
The father told Patch that as he was on the phone with his daughter, he saw his neighbor, a retired lieutenant from a local police department, outside doing chores.
The father asked his neighbor to help him, and the two agreed to tell the teen to drive to the neighbor’s home. The neighbor went into the home and grabbed his former police badge and the two waited for the girl to arrive.
As the girl pulled into the court, the father said Glass, who was following closely behind, stopped his car in front of them.
“He rushed up to us and braked harshly. His passenger window was lowered and I simply leaned inside the window and asked why was he following my daughter and who he was,” the father said.
“His answer was, ‘I’ll show you who I am.’ He reached in, grabbed his gun and pointed it at my chest. At which point I put my hands in the air and began backing away, trying to get myself out of that predicament.”
'State of terror'
The father said all he could think about at the moment was that his daughter was just feet away and he had to protect her.
As the neighbor approached Glass and tried to convince him to put his gun away, the father said Glass turned his gaze toward the neighbor and pointed the gun at him.
“An elevated state of terror came in when he pointed the gun at my neighbor,” the father said.
The girl had stepped out of her vehicle at that point, the father said. With the gunman fixed on his neighbor, the father said he found his opportunity to try to protect his daughter.
“The best thing I could do was position my body between him and my daughter and if anyone was going to get shot it was going to be me,” he said.
The father said Glass exited his vehicle with his gun in hand and began waving it in the air as he cursed and said that the girl had hit his vehicle on Van Dyke Avenue about 15 minutes ago and drove away.
The father told Glass that he would write him a check to cover any damages incurred from the crash.
As the father and the neighbor tried to calm Glass down, he pulled out his police badge and informed them that he was an off-duty Rochester police officer, the father said.
“At that point I said to him 'If you’re a police officer, then everything is good,' ” the father told Patch. “But deep down inside, by the appearance, the interior of the car, the way he looked, manner and behavior, his elevated emotional state, I did not think him to be a cop. I just thought that this was his excuse to get out of the situation — which I wanted him to. Just basically leave us alone — and get out of the situation.”
While the neighbor continued to talk to Glass, the father told Patch that he grabbed his daughter and the two walked to the back yard of their home and called police.
The neighbor continued to talk with Glass for a few minutes and convinced him to get in his vehicle and leave the area.
The father contacted the Shelby Township and Rochester police departments.
“What’s even more alarming is what would he have done to my daughter had he caught up to her alone,” the father said.
The father told Patch he's thankful that nobody got hurt, and for the help he has received from the Shelby Township Police Department and from the Rochester Police Department and, specifically, Chief Schettenhelm.
Most of all he's thankful for his neighbor.
"My neighbor was heroic," he said.
“This officer (Glass) did not call Shelby Township police, as is protocol. He took it upon himself to follow someone and stalk her for 15 minutes,” the father said.
Schettenhelm said an off-duty officer is expected to respond to a crime or accident the same way as a regular citizen would: call the police for help.
"There is a certain expectation that because of their training and experience, an off-duty police officer should be able to respond differently to those types of situations, but ultimately they have the same authority as a citizen," Schettenhelm said.
"You've heard of 'citizen's arrest,' but we advise against that, because it's just not safe."
Glass’s attorney, Fred Gibson, said he had not yet received discovery documents in the case and therefore he didn’t know many details. He did, however, say that his client, who did not know the driver of the SUV was a teenage girl because of tinted windows, acted accordingly.
“He automatically went on high alert and did what was appropriate,” he said.
Gibson said the 16-year-old driver hit Glass’s vehicle on Van Dyke and attempted to flee the scene. He said there is damage to Glass’s vehicle to prove it.
The girl’s father said that he did not see damage to either of the vehicles.
“In my opinion, I think that he’s a bully and this is a culture with him and he was on some kind of power trip and he wanted to teach someone a lesson,” the girl’s father said.
Attorney to fight charge
Glass's attorney told Patch he believes the charge for brandishing a firearm in public, which is a misdemeanor, should be dropped.
“All of these gun-carriers – they would be guilty of that,” Gibson said. “That’s not a criminal offense. This guy's a police officer. You can walk down the street with a gun strapped to your hip. That’s not against the law.”
Joe Cross is the father and daughter's attorney.
"The conduct of Rochester Police Officer Glass was unacceptable," said Cross. "What’s disturbing to the family at this point is that his attorney now suggests that Officer Glass should perhaps not be prosecuted, despite using his police badge and gun to terrorize a 16-year-old girl and her father."
If convicted, Glass could face up to four years in prison for the assault charge and up to two years for the felony firearm charge.
Glass will be in court May 10 for a probable cause hearing.
"We have every confidence in the prosecutor to diligently and aggressively pursue the felony assault charges," Cross said.
Rochester Patch editor Kristin Bull contributed to this report.