Remembering Benny Napoleon

Benny Nelson Napoleon, J.D. (September 10, 1955 – December 17, 2020) was an American attorney, law enforcement officer, and politician who served as the Sheriff of Wayne County, Michigan. He was also a 2013 candidate for the office of Mayor of Detroit. Born in Detroit in 1955, he was one of seven children of his mother, Betty, and father, Harry Napoleon, who was a minister. Napoleon graduated from Cass Technical High School. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from University of Detroit Mercy and Juris Doctor from the Detroit College of Law.

Napoleon entered the Detroit Police Department in 1975.He was also a member of the Detroit Police basketball team that played in International Police tournaments in Ontario Canada in 1978-1980. He served as police chief from 1998 to 2001 under Dennis Archer. In 2004, he was made Assistant Wayne County Executive, and in 2009, he became Wayne County Sheriff.

In November 2020, it was announced that Napoleon had tested positive for COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan. He was admitted to a local hospital on November 21 and placed on a ventilator. On December 17, after various sources reported that Napoleon had died, his family released a statement on Facebook that Napoleon remained in stable condition. Napoleon died later on December 17, 2020.