Police livid after man who allegedly shot at cops cuts tether

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit police are livid after a man accused of shooting at officers last year and reportedly threatening to kill more cops cut his tether before a court hearing Friday morning, prompting a citywide manhunt.

Police officials Friday put out a memo for officers to  be on the lookout for Ivory Traylor, 31, who was charged with assault with intent to commit murder last year after he allegedly shot at three police officers during a May 17, 2017, foot chase.

Traylor, who is believed to be suffering from mental illness, was granted $100,000 bond and released on a tether by 36th District Judge William C. McConico.

Police say Traylor removed the tether at 9:30 a.m. Friday on the northbound Lodge Freeway at the Wyoming exit ramp.

The fact that Traylor was released into the community after he allegedly tried to kill cops infuriated Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

"I'm deeply troubled by this," Craig said. "How can a judge give a tether to a mentally-ill man who tried to kill police officers? We put out the information to our officers to not only be on the lookout for him, but to be careful, because he supposedly threatened to kill more cops."

Detroit Police Officers Association President Mark Diaz had scathing words for McConico, whom The Detroit News could not reach for comment Friday.

"Way to go, judge," Diaz said. "Whatever this guy does going forward, I blame on the judge. Let's just call it for what it is: This judge has it out for police officers."

Diaz pointed out that McConico twice ruled against a request to lower a $1 million bond for former Michigan State Police Trooper Mark Bessner, who was charged with second-degree murder after he allegedly used his Taser on 15-year-old ATV driver Damon Grimes, who crashed into a flatbed and died of blunt-force head trauma.

The judge called the request to lower bond "offensive."

"So this judge refused to give a lower bond to a police officer who accidentally did something in the performance of his duty that caused death, but he's going to let a mentally ill person out on a tether who purposely tried to kill human beings? That's offensive to me." 

Wayne Circuit Judge Margaret Van Houten later upheld Traylor's bond conditions over vehement protests from prosecutors, Craig said.

"The prosecutors did what they were supposed to do," Craig said. "They argued against letting this guy go, but the judges didn't listen to them."

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller on Friday called Traylor a "dangerous man," saying prosecutors objected to his bond at every court hearing.

"Despite that, he was given bond at the district court and the circuit court level and now here we are," Miller wrote in an email to The News. "It is highly unfortunate, and we hope that he will be brought to justice."

According to earlier statements by prosecutors, a citizen called 911 on May 17, 2017, complaining that a man was being disruptive at a hotel in the 1900 block of Jefferson.

When police arrived at the scene, Traylor allegedly took off running, and three officers chased him. Prosecutors say Traylor pulled out a handgun, turned, and fired multiple shots at the officers.

The officers returned fire, hitting Traylor several times, authorities said. Once he was wounded, officers disarmed and arrested him. Traylor was treated for several leg wounds.

"I spoke with his mother at the crime scene," Craig said. "She wasn't mad at us; she was angry because the system failed her son by not getting him the mental health treatment he needed."

Traylor's court-appointed attorney, Randall P. Upshaw, said Friday his client had been improving after getting mental health treatment.

"He was definitely mentally unstable when this incident occurred," Upshaw said. "He didn't go (to the hotel) to try to shoot the police. The store owners nearby said he was paranoid, saying someone was going to kill him. 

"He was putting garbage cans in front of the door, trying to keep someone out who he said was after him. Witnesses said he kept saying 'all I've got is my life and my gun,' and walking around in circles.

"But once he was arrested and taken to the Wayne County Jail, he received treatment for the first time in his life," Upshaw said. "After that, he was a different individual. He got ten times better. At first, he wasn't competent to stand trial, but after his treatment, he was ruled competent.

"Unfortunately, even though we know he was nutty as a fruitcake, he smoked marijuana, and the doctors said if that somehow contributed to his mental illness, that's not a defense," Upshaw said.

Upshaw said he hasn't spoken to his client since he absconded. "Maybe the stress of it all got to him," he said. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Detroit Police Crime Intelligence Unit at (313) 596-2250.


(313) 222-2134

Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN