Detroit Man Pleads No Contest to Threatening Elected Officials

A 60-year-old man from Detroit has pleaded no contest to the charge of Malicious Use of Telecommunications Services for making a threatening 911 call. James Toepler allegedly called the Detroit Police Department’s 911 Call Center on June 23, 2021, where he threatened to kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and other unnamed individuals.

Attorney General Dana Nessel has stated that this act was not protected speech but rather an attempt to terrorize and intimidate public officials. In response, her office’s Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism Unit will continue to prosecute threats against elected officials.

During a pre-trial hearing held in the 36th District Court in Detroit, Judge E. Lynise Bryant agreed to sentence Toepler to a specialized mental health treatment court. This decision reflects the need to address any underlying mental health issues that may have contributed to the defendant’s behavior.

Threats against public officials are taken seriously, and it is vital to ensure the safety and well-being of elected representatives. This case serves as a reminder that individuals who engage in such behavior will be held accountable for their actions.

It is imperative to create an environment where public officials can fulfill their duties without the constant fear of harm or violence. The prosecution of individuals who make threats against elected officials demonstrates a commitment to upholding the integrity of our democratic process and protecting those who serve the public.