Man, 19, to be tried in shooting of 2 Detroit cops
A 19-year-old Detroit man was ordered Friday to stand trial in the non-fatal shooting of two city police officers who, according to his lawyer, the teen believed were burglars trying to break into his family’s home.
Judge Kenneth King of 36th District Court said while he believes Juwan Plummer was fearful and was “very much afraid” when he heard knocking on the door of his family’s home in the late hours on April 16, the question is whether the teen had a “reasonable” belief that a break-in was underway.
Citing Michigan case law, King said a trial judge will have to decide whether Plummer had a “reasonable” belief that he was in danger when he allegedly fired upon the officers after one of them approached the home in the 20500 block of Lesure.
The officers were responding to a report from someone in the home that a break-in was occurring at an unoccupied home across the street.
“I don’t believe the defendant set out to harm the police officers. I don’t believe that at all,” King said Friday. “I believe he was in danger. The question is whether that belief was reasonable.”
King, who said the suspect “seems like a baby” and “seems very remorseful,” added that Plummer could have harmed someone else, including a neighbor or a family member, by firing “blindly” from inside the home.
He is charged with two counts of intentional discharge of a firearm in a building causing serious injury and related offenses.
Plummer was emotional as he spoke following the judge’s ruling Friday.
“I never had any bad intentions. I just wanted to protect my family,” he said. “We live in a neighborhood where police don’t really patrol our neighborhood as they should, so I had to do what I had to do to protect my family. I’m basically the man of the house.
“My whole life I’ve been trying to be a good person. I just pray that everybody understands that I’m a human being. I make mistakes but in this situation I was trying to protect my family.”
One of the officers who was shot, Tyler Simmons, who works in the 12th precinct, took the stand Friday and testified that he and his partner received a call that someone in Plummer’s home had reported a break-in in progress at the unoccupied home across the street.
Simmons said the report also said the caller’s home had been previously broken into. Simmons said he and his partner went toward Plummer’s home when they could not find an evidence of a break-in.
The officer said he and his partner also were not given an address to the home in question.
Simmons said he and his partner were wearing uniforms and were in a scout car. He testified they did not have a siren or lights on their car.
The officer said he went up to the door and starting knocking hard on the steel grating with his fists and then his department-issued flashlight.
Simmons testified that he knocked first, heard a dog barking and then announced he was an officer. Then he heard a bang and felt “a burning sensation on the left side of my body.”
Simmons testified he ran down to the driveway, joining his partner, and heard a shot.
Simmons said he returned fire and called for help, screaming: “Officer down! Officer down! Detroit Police!”
The officer said he saw a woman appear in a window of the home briefly.
The officers were taken to Sinai Grace Hospital to be treated. Simmons’ partner is still recovering from his wound and had to have his jaws wired shut.
Simmons said gunshot pellets are still near his partner’s carotid artery.
Plummer’s defense attorney, Victoria Burton-Harris, said he did not know there was a police officer knocking at the family’s door.
“The officer did not do a traditional knock,” Burton-Harris told the judge during her argument. “You hear ‘bam.’ He doesn’t say ‘Police.’ He says it after the knock on the door.”
Burton-Harris asked King not to bound over her client, saying his family was fearful and that burglars had tried to force themselves into the home’s back door three days before the shooting.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Sarah DeYoung asked King to send Plummer to trial, saying he had fired a shotgun in a reckless manner.
Plummer is due back in court at 9 a.m. May 19 for an arraignment on information in 3rd Circuit Court.