Wayne County sheriff dies from COVID-19 complications


Detroit mayor candidate Benny Napoleon concedes the race to ex-health care executive Mike Duggan during an election night watch party in Detroit, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Unofficial returns showed Duggan leading Napoleon 55 percent to 45 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. (AP PhotoCarlos Osorio)

DETROIT (AP/WJMN) — Benny Napoleon, the sheriff of Michigan’s largest county and a former Detroit police chief, has died. Napoleon spent weeks in the hospital with COVID-19. Napoleon was Wayne County sheriff since 2009.

“I am heartbroken at the news of my der friend Benny’s passing,” said Governor Whitmer. “Sheriff Napoleon’s love for the people he served was returned many times over. His Quick Laugh, eager partnership, and candid counsel is what I will miss most. He was a truly special person. Sharon, Tiffani and his whole family are in my prayers.” 

Tiffani Jackson says her 65-year-old father died Thursday at Henry Ford Hospital with family present.

“I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of my friend and colleague Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. I have long admired his work at the department and was honored to have an opportunity to partner with him as a colleague,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

“Benny was beloved by so many in the Wayne County community and around the state. We enjoyed a close relationship since the time I took office, including working feverishly together last spring to bring much-needed PPE to his department to protect his deputies, who he cared so deeply for. I could always count on Benny for his support, his input and his cooperation. He was a wonderful man and his passing is a loss not only for his family but also for his many friends and co-workers. Benny had so much life yet to live; our community has once again lost someone larger than life to this vicious pandemic. My heart goes out to Benny’s family. It was an honor and a privilege to call him my sheriff.”

“I’m very sad to hear that Sheriff Benny Napoleon has died of COVID-19. He was an incredible man who loved Detroit and everyone he served in Wayne County. I’m thinking tonight of his family and his many friends and sending my love,” Senator Debbie Stabenow wrote in a memorial statement.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who defeated Napoleon for mayor in 2013, says he can’t think of a local leader “more loved and admired than Benny.”

“Sheriff Benny Napoleon’s passing is a tremendous loss for the city of Detroit, Wayne County, and the entire state of Michigan,” said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II.

“Benny was a pillar in the community—a model public servant who lead by example through conscientious words and selfless service. All throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheriff Napoleon stood tall on the front lines alongside members of his department to ensure that our community had what it needed to get through this crisis together. He was a progressive ally and champion for changing the justice system to better serve society. And he offered himself as a mentor at every opportunity, so that young leaders, like myself, can be, believe in, and become our greatest selves. Benny’s loss hits hard in the soul of so many people in southeast Michigan who had a chance to connect with him over his decades of service, and his legacy leaves our lives better because of his presence. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in power.”

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