Report: Ex-commissioner made phone threat after alcohol accusation

Steven Redmond
A Dec. 8, 2016 mug shot of Steven Redmond. (Michigan Department of Corrections)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A former Kentwood commissioner accused of threatening a resident by phone placed the call after she accused him of drinking before a commission meeting, a police report indicates.

Steven Redmond is charged with malicious use of telecommunication services in the Oct. 19 incident.

It all started on Oct. 17 when the resident said she contacted Redmond to voice her opposition to a project to widen Wing Avenue SE between 52nd Street and 60th Street. The resident told authorities she had called Redmond the day before a commission meeting on the topic and eventually hung up on him because he “would not stop yelling.” Redmond told authorities they were both passionate and “excited” during the roughly ten-minute phone call, which ended when he “raised his voice” and she hung up.

The resident said she attended an Oct. 18 city commission meeting to comment on the project.

In a police report 24 Hour News 8 obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the resident told officers that she smelled alcohol on Redmond as she walked past him during the meeting. However, Redmond denied drinking alcohol before the meeting in a November interview with detectives.

Redmond said he learned of the accusation when Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley handed him a printed copy of an email which contained feedback from the resident which she left on the road project’s web page.

Redmond told officers he didn’t read it until the next day. In it, the resident who opposed the project said Redmond’s breath smelled of alcohol during the prior commission meeting, he said.

Steve Redmond
An undated courtesy photo of Steve Redmond from his campaign Facebook page.

“He was furious about the alcohol comment and ‘felt (she) sent the comment knowing that it would be circulated to Redmond’s superiors,’” the police report reads.

Redmond then emailed MDOT to tell the agency he was taking a half sick day because he was “suffering big time from hay fever,” according to MDOT’s investigation. He then went to The Garage Bar in Grand Rapids, where he ate lunch and had alcoholic drinks, he told detectives at the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

Kentwood police said surveillance video from the bar shows Redmond answering his cellphone, hanging up, getting the bar’s phone from the bartender, then dialing from the bar phone as he looks at his cellphone. Redmond placed a third call on the bar phone before getting up and walking away, authorities said.

The resident said her caller ID showed the call came from “The Garage.” When she picked up, she said the caller said, “You bear false witness, you’re evil, you die.”

However, Redmond told authorities he only said “stop making false accusations” and hung up without identifying himself. He denied making any threatening comments, trying to contact the resident or having any intentions of physically harming her, detectives said in their report.

Investigators said they repeatedly tried to contact Redmond after the phone call, but didn’t receive a response until his lawyer called them back and agreed to the November interview.

Redmond also took a polygraph test on November, but authorities are not releasing the results.

On Dec. 6, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker authorized the charge against Redmond, who turned himself in three days later and was released a short time later after posting $100 bond.

Redmond originally pleaded not guilty to the charge, but changed his plea to no contest on March 7, court records show.

Redmond was suspended for 10 days from his regular job at MDOT for failing to carry out his duties and conduct unbecoming of a state employee, according to the agency’s report. His resignation last month from the city commission was part of the last chance agreement with MDOT.