A civil lawsuit filed against Oakland County Sheriff and Birmingham resident Michael Bouchard for actions taken by department helicopter pilot Bill Christensen to disperse a crowd during the Woodward Dream Cruise is now the focus of his challenger's campaign just two days before the vote.
Democrat Jane Boudreau issued a series of press releases over the weekend to publicize the lawsuit and spark her campaign to unseat the incumbent Republican.
The complaint, filed Friday before Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot, alleges that the pilot acted under Bouchard's orders when he flew below the allowable height by the FAA to disperse a crowd during the Woodward Dream Cruise on Aug. 18.
Terry McIninch, the plaintiff, claims the helicopter’s rotor wash injured his children Jess and Alyssa and kicked up debris, damaging McIninch’s 1971 Chevrolet El Camino and his motor home.
The downdraft of the helicopter was "literally picking up and throwing Plaintiffs Jess McIninch and Alyssa McIninch like ragdolls and causing them great bodily and emotional harm," the suit claims, according to a press release.
After reading about the suit, Boudreau said the incident exemplified a larger problem of accountability.
"Personally, I believe the behavior of the crew of the helicopter should not solely rest on their shoulders," she said in a prepared statement. "Their behavior/reaction was more endemic to a Sheriff’s Office that is without leadership."
The sheriff’s helicopter was reportedly in the area across from the site of the former General Motors Corp. Pontiac West assembly plant after two large fights broke out when the Dream Cruise ended, the Oakland Press reported.
“My client didn’t want to have to file a lawsuit. He’s been waiting for them to get back to (him) and repair his vehicle, but the delay is what’s really brought this about,” McIninch's attorney Michael Komorn said.
Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe told the Press that was a lie.
“Mr. McIninch has failed to cooperate with us. He’s made allegations that there’s damages of all kinds to his vehicle and his motor home, and he has produced nothing to us, despite our requests in writing for estimates for damages,” McCabe said.
He also said the alleged hieght of the helicopter in the suit is also false, and called the suit "very suspect, and it would lead anybody with common sense to know that it’s politically motivated,” the Press reported.