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TV station probes violence claims against Detroit firefighter. Case of two women punched reopened. Commissioner looking at off-duty incidents as possible conduct unbecoming.

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As promised, WXYZ-TV spent more than six-minutes of it’s 6:00 newscast last night looking into the off-duty life of a Detroit firefighter. What reporter Scott Lewis found was not very pretty. It starts with two women who claimed Mike Risher hit them outside a bar almost two-years-ago. Much of that incident was caught on video. The women make the case that, despite that video and statements from witnesses, police in Hamtramck refused to investigate the case properly because it involved a firefighter.

Scott Lewis says that allegation is backed up in the story of a witness the reporter tracked down. The unidentified witness related something one of the police officers told him, “I can tell you right now, not much is going to come of this because he’s a Detroit fireman.”

In addition to the fight outside the bar, reporter Lewis shows video of what he says is another bar fight involving Risher. A couple who sued following that fight claimed Risher avoided being arrested after flashing his firefighter’s badge. The couple won a $15,000 judgment against the firefighter.

Lewis also claims police have been called to Risher’s home three times for domestic issues.

In addition to having his private life very publicly displayed, the TV station’s report has brought new issues for Firefighter Mike Risher. It has prompted police to take another look at the fight with the two women and it is bringing scrutiny from Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin.

Here are some excerpts from the WXYZ-TV investigation:

7 Action News emailed Risher a copy of the security video from the Mars Bar.  We asked him to point out where in the video he was seen intervening in another fight as he claimed. We also asked him about allegations raised in the prior bar fight and the alleged assault on his wife.

Risher did not respond.

The Investigators also contacted Hamtramck Police Chief Maxwell Garbarino and asked him why officers did not allow the women to make a report or look at their video. Garbarino, who was not the chief at the time of the incident, indicated that a detective should have followed up on the complaint.  Garbarino has now assigned a detective to take a fresh look at the incident and he said both women will be brought into the police department for interviews.

7 Action News also contacted Detroit Fire Commissioner Donald Austin and asked him whether Risher’s behavior could be in violation of any fire department rules or regulations.  Austin indicated he would be watching our investigation and stated that there is a chance Risher could be charged departmentally with conduct unbecoming of a firefighter.

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