Craig: Man killed by cop was a carjacker

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A 19-year-old man who was fatally shot by a Detroit Police officer Monday was a repeat felon who carjacked a man two days earlier, Police Chief James Craig said.

During a news conference Wednesday at police headquarters, Craig said officers spoke with the family of Raynard Burton, who was killed at 1:34 p.m. Monday after what Craig said was a struggle in the backyard of a vacant house at 4255 Webb on the city’s west side.

The officer, a 22-year veteran assigned to the 10th Precinct Special Operations team, is on restricted duty while Detroit Police and Michigan State Police investigate the shooting. Craig said he expects to turn over the results of the police probe to the Wayne County’s Prosecutor’s Office on Monday.

Prosecutors will launch their own investigation before determining whether criminal charges will be brought against the officer.

Also Wednesday, Craig corrected some inaccurate information that was put out by police immediately after the shooting.

A special operations scout car was on patrol Monday when the officer spotted Burton speeding through the streets in a green Pontiac Bonneville, Craig said.

Craig initially said the car had not been stolen, but he later clarified it had been stolen two days earlier in a carjacking.

“We were trying to understand whether the vehicle was stolen,” he said. “The vehicle, in fact was stolen; however, the registered owner sold the vehicle the year prior, and the new owner didn’t get the vehicle registered. The victim didn’t have the vehicle registered and didn’t have a valid driver’s license.”

Craig said the owner of the Bonneville was carjacked at 12:21 a.m. Saturday on the 3800 block of Sturdivant.

“Once the carjacking took place, the victim acquired other transportation and began to follow ... his vehicle,” Craig said. “During this following, he contacted 911 (and) indicated he was following a vehicle involved in the carjacking.

“The 911 operator advised several times for the victim to disengage; he refused to do so. And then the operator (told the man to) go to a police station. The victim disconnected the call. We don’t know why.”

Craig said detectives have since tracked down the man, who identified Burton as being the “lone armed suspect who was involved in the carjacking.”

Burton was previously arrested in connection with a January carjacking but was released because there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him, Craig said.

When the special operations officer saw the Bonneville speeding, he gave chase, Craig said. After the shooting, Craig said the officer had engaged his lights and siren, but on Wednesday, he said that wasn’t the case.

“We have learned the lights were not activated because there was too much distance between the police vehicle and the fleeing Pontiac,” he said. “As the officers began to approach the vehicle, it was involved in an accident.

“I reported out that afternoon that the vehicle struck a light pole. That was inaccurate. We have since found out ... the suspect may have possibly struck an occupied vehicle. We got that from a witness. However, that vehicle (identified by the witness as a blue van) left the scene before we started our investigation, so we have not confirmed that. However, the vehicle did strike a building.”

Burton bolted from the car and ran away, Craig said.

“Initially, it was a foot pursuit by the passenger officer,” Craig said.

But the officer was losing ground, so “the driver officer re-entered his police vehicle, gained some distance, left his vehicle and finished the foot pursuit,” he said.

“During the pursuit, at some point, the officer who was involved in the shooting unholstered his weapon,” Craig said. “The officer believed at one point in the pursuit the suspect was grabbing his waistline, and he believed the suspect could have possibly armed himself.”

Craig said Burton ran between two houses and into the backyard of a vacant dwelling.

“At some point during this encounter, the officer gave certain directions to comply,” he said. “At that point, there was what we believe to be a physical altercation, resulting in a single shot being fired. The officer feared for his safety, and that’s why he made the decision to fire his weapon.”

Evidence was recovered from the scene, and it’s being analyzed by forensic examiners, Craig said.

Only one house in that stretch of Webb is occupied. Craig said officers knocked on the door after the shooting but nobody was home.

Both officers involved in the incident were African-American, as was Burton, Craig said.

Craig said Burton had several contacts with police as a juvenile, and court records show he was given several chances, even after violating probation. Craig said he withheld Burton’s criminal history until officers spoke with his family.

Detroit police arrested Burton for two felony assaults, two misdemeanor assaults, a stolen vehicle and narcotics, according to Craig. Burton also had a 2014 conviction for assaulting a Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility employee, Craig said.

Court records show Burton was given several chances by the juvenile court, even after committing multiple violent crimes and violating probation.

On May 26, 2010, the 13-year-old Burton walked into Taft Middle School, which he did not attend at the time, while classes were in session. Burton “went inside the gym ... and refused to leave when asked,” a police report said. “(Burton) then took a ball away from special education students and threw it, hitting (the) teacher in the head. (Burton) then began to kick the victim several times in the leg area.”

Burton was given probation and placed in his mother’s home, court documents show. He was accepted into the Wraparound Program, which aims to help families by referring them to multiple support services.

Two months after entering the Wraparound Program on July 31, 2010, Burton assaulted his 8-year-old brother, court records show. “When his parents intervene(d), Raynard became verbally and physically assaultive toward them,” according to a Juvenile Court report. He then threw a beer bottle through his living room window and was arrested, documents show. He was later given probation.

On Nov. 5, 2010, Burton violated his probation and was listed as a runaway. He was caught and sent to the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility until Juvenile Court referee Nicolas Bobk on Aug. 29, 2011, placed him on modified probation, meaning he could live with his mother while receiving treatment for anger management and other issues.

On Oct. 1, 2012, Burton assaulted three women with a rifle. He was convicted of assault and placed on probation.

Burton was back before a judge in May 2013, when he stole a 1998 Dodge Stratus. Detroit police officers spotted him in the stolen car and flashed their lights and siren, according to a police report. “(Burton) jumped out of the front passenger seat and (fled) on foot,” the report said. Burton was captured, convicted and again sent to the juvenile detention facility, court records show.

On June 6, 2014, a petition to have Burton released from custody was granted by Wayne Circuit Family Court Judge Jerome Cavanaugh. Three months later, Burton was again cited for violating probation and was listed as a runaway. He was sent to the detention facility, where he was convicted of assaulting an employee, police said.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN