Off-duty officer gets pepper sprayed, fires shots

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

The Detroit police internal affairs office continues to investigate an incident where an off-duty Detroit police officer was pepper-sprayed by another woman and then fired shots at her Tuesday afternoon.

The officer had to flag down a counterpart in Grosse Pointe Park to help her flush out her eyes after the conflict.

The incident took place about 4:55 p.m. Tuesday on the 4000 block of Cadieux, north of Mack, said Officer Dan Donakowski, a Detroit Police Department spokesman.

File photo

The officer, whose age and years of experience were not immediately available, was involved in an altercation with a 36-year-old woman. The woman pulled out pepper spray and used it on the off-duty officer. As she was “flailing backward,” the off-duty officer fired shots but did not hit the woman.

Ultimately, the officer was able to leave the location and drove east to Grosse Pointe. Once there, she flagged down a Grosse Pointe police officer, who helped flush the spray out of her eyes. Stephen Poloni, director of public safety for Grosse Pointe Park and Grosse Pointe, told The News that it was about 4:59 p.m. when the Detroit officer flagged down a police car on the 1300 block of Harvard in Grosse Pointe. The Pointe police flushed out the off-duty officer's eyes with water, and dispatch notified Detroit Police Department, which made the scene and took over the case.

The other woman went to the hospital for “unrelated injuries,” Donakowski said, and was in stable condition at last report.

Why the altercation took place, whether the woman who allegedly used pepper spray knew she was using it on an off-duty officer, and whether any arrests were made, were not immediately known.

Michael Woody, director of media relations for the Detroit Police Department, said the department's internal affairs reviews all incidents involving the use of potentially lethal force.

Carrying duty weapons while off-duty used to be mandatory for Detroit police officers but became optional around five years ago, Woody explained.

"It became more reasonable to give (officers) the option," he said, rather than requiring it, which used to open the door for trouble for armed off-duty officers who were at events involving alcohol.

Woody added that someone using pepper spray is likely "trying to subdue" the target, which could put an armed off-duty officer at risk of having their weapon taken.