Chelsa Wagner and Khari Mosley allege in a federal lawsuit that the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit didn't approve of their interracial marriage, which led to a confrontation with staff, security and police in March 2019.
The Pittsburgh couple came to see a concert featuring Nas, a rapper performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. While checking into the downtown hotel, the suit filed Monday says:
One of the female clerks looked askance at the plaintiffs and asked abruptly if the plaintiffs were together. The plaintiffs responded that they were married and were together.
Mosley, who is black, and Wagner, who is white, produced identification and got rooom keys. But only Wagner's name was registered to the room, the suit says, adding that it is an industry practice to register all adult occupants.
"The clerk seemed disapproving of the fact that they [plaintiffs] were an interracial couple," the suit alleges.
The U.S. District Court in Detroit case names as defendants the hotel, Marriott International and two security guards. It alleges false arrest and imprisonment, assault , infliction of emotional distress and damage to reputation. It asks for an unspecified amount of compensation.
► Support our reporting by becoming a Deadline Detroit member for as little as $3 per month.
On the evening of March 5 two years ago, the couple attended the concert and had dinner. They returned to the hotel shortly before 11 p.m. Wagner, who is controller in Allegheny County, Pa., retired to the room. Her husband went to the hotel restaurant, 24 Grille, for a glass of wine. At some point he realized he didn't have his key and phoned his wife, who said she'd leave the door unlocked.
While trying to get to the 10th floor on the elevator, he realized a room key was needed for access. A desk clerk wouldn't give him one because his name was not registered.
The staff called the room, but there was no answer. Mosley said his wife is a sound sleeper.
Mosley then asked if the hotel could escort him to the room or have someone go upstairs to talk to his wife. Those requests were denied, according to the suit, and the staff asked him to leave the hotel. Outside, the temperature was nine degrees.
Security officers Darryl Jones and Timothy Scott were summoned to eject him, the legal filing says.
"The hotel security officers, Jones and Scott, concluded Mosley was a vagrant because he was Black, with a beard, wearing a red jumpsuit with tennis shoes," the suit says. "Mosley was bewildered, confused, shocked and frustrated that he was being treated so badly and that he was being treated as a vagrant."
Mosley returned to the hotel multiple times, but the hotel security kept kicking him out. He repeatedly asked someone to go up to the room to talk to his wife but "multiple pleas for help went unanswered because the security officers believed he was a vagrant and had no business being in the hotel," the suit alleges.
The officers, the suit says, put a finger in his face in a threatening manner, chest bumped him, balled up fists, threatened to hit him and pushed him. Security then called police, saying that Mosley posed a threat and might have a gun.
Mosley was then detained in the back of a police car while an officer went to the room and spoke to Wagner, who confirmed that Mosley belonged in the room. While being escorted there, he complained about his treatment at the hotel and threatened to sue.
As the security officers and Detroit police walked away, they decided to return "to retaliate against Mosley for the comments he made about the deplorable and unlawful treatment of him and the threats of legal action." The suit alleges they said they went back because they heard a loud bang or kick, which the plaintiffs dispute.
Ordered to Leave
Police and security told the guests they had to leave. They then focused on Mosley and told him he had to go. Police ended up handcuffing Mosley and leading him from the room.
Wagner videotaped as her husband was escorted down the hall. Police then ordered her off the elevator.
After exiting, the lawsuit alleges, one of the police officers retaliated by "throwing her to the ground and handcuffing her, causing her to suffer multiple bruises, scrapes, and a shoulder injury." The officer then alleged that Wagner had assaulted him and took her to jail.
Mosley was not arrested and allowed to return to gather belongings.
"Misguided criminal charges were brought against both Mosley and Wagner, and both went through full separate jury trials," suit says. Mosley was acquitted on all charges. Wagner was acquitted of all ut one charge, which was later reduced to "the lowest misdemeanor possible and resolved."
The suit says that the couple suffered substantial damage to their good names and reputations.
Deadline Detroit left a message Tuesday morning with the hotel staff, but did not immediately get a return call for comment.
2019 coverage of case: