Feud cited in death of girl, 5, and fatal police shooting

Police gather at home in the 9200 block of Evergreen where a 46-year-old man was shot and killed Sept. 14, 2018.

This story has been updated to correct the address of a fatal shooting of a 46-year-old man. 

Detroit — A long-running feud between sisters sparked a chain of events that included the shooting death of a 5-year-old girl, the critical wounding of her mother, and later, the death of a 46-year-old man who was killed by police when he allegedly leveled a gun at officers, officials said Friday.

Two suspects — including the sister of the wounded woman and a male relative who's believed to have shot the girl — are in police custody, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Friday during a press conference at Public Safety Headquarters.

The little girl was shot once in the head, Craig said. A police source identified the victim as Isabella Coleman. 

"This is a tragic incident," Craig said. "Any time you have a 5-year-old child killed, it's terrible.

"We have information that the mother and her sister had been involved in an ongoing dispute. We believe that's part of this tragedy."

Neighbors of the girl and her mother told police the two sisters had argued hours before the shooting, Craig said.

About 9:50 p.m. Thursday, a man, possibly masked, entered the victims' home in the 19000 block of Lyndon Street on Detroit's west side, Craig said.

Isabella and her mother were lying in bed together when the gunman opened fire with a .22-caliber pistol, striking the woman 16 times in the torso and upper extremities, the chief said.

Then, the gunman fired a single shot to Isabella's head, Craig said. He added investigators are trying to determine if the suspect meant to kill the girl.

"I wish I had a clear answer," said Craig, noting the investigation was in its early stages. "One theory is that it was purposeful. You fire 16 rounds at the mother and then a final round striking the child in the head and the mother lying next to her ..."

He left the sentence unfinished.

Responding officers from the Eighth Precinct put the girl into a squad car and rushed her to a nearby hospital, Craig said.

"There was a faint pulse," he said. "The officers very quickly placed the 5-year-old in the police car, and one of the officers held her." 

The girl died shortly after arriving at the hospital, Craig said.

Homicide detectives were "relentless" investigating the shooting, Craig said.

"They got information about the vehicle involved, a judge signed a search warrant and there was an execution of the search warrant," he said.

Craig described a darkened, chaotic scene as Detroit Police Special Response Team officers entered the house at about 4:50 a.m. on the 9200 block of Evergreen.

"It was very dark; the porch lights were out," Craig said. He said officers used a "flash bang" grenade before entering the house.

Residents of the house told reporters police never announced who they were before entering, although Craig said the officers' body-worn cameras refute that claim.

"The initial announcement was 'search warrant, search warrant, search warrant,' and then 'Detroit Police Department' or 'Police,'" Craig said.

The flash-bang grenade was then deployed, Craig said.

"That's common when officers are going into a potentially dangerous situation," he said.

"The officers breached the door and made entry. The first officer through the door said 'get down, get down, get down.'"

Craig said a man lying on the couch, armed with an AR-15 pistol-grip semi-automatic gun, aimed the weapon at the first officer who entered the house. The officer fired several shots, killing the man, the chief said.

Craig said he reviewed the officer's body camera video, which did not show the gun, because the room was too dark.

However, another body-camera video, recovered from an officer who entered the house after the shooting, which was reviewed by a deputy chief, showed the gun on the floor next to the man after the shooting, Craig said. The gun was taken as evidence.

Police also recovered 10 packs of heroin "that were packaged for sale," Craig said.

Several people from the home were taken into police custody for questioning and later released. The adult victim's sister was placed under arrest.

The male relative who's believed to be the girl's killer was captured Friday afternoon, Craig said.

Police also took a vehicle into custody, Craig said.

Irate family members of the unidentified man who was fatally shot by police said at the scene he had nothing to do with Thursday's shooting.

“All I heard was a big boom, and then they busted in the house and shooting,” said McKayla Coleman, 19, who was in the house upstairs. She said the person killed by police was her sister’s uncle, who was on the couch downstairs at the home.

“When we came downstairs, he was on the floor, and they wouldn’t tell us what was wrong with him,” she said.

Craig said whether the man was involved in shooting the girl and her mother is immaterial.

"If you point a gun at officers, it doesn't matter whether you're a suspect in any other case," he said.

Family members identified the deceased man as Detric Lamont Driver, who turned 46 in June, got married last month and was taking commercial driver's license classes to learn to drive trucks.

“He would be in class right now,” Detric Driver's brother, Daryl Driver, 49, said Friday morning. “You know those cartoon characters' tops blow? Mine’s gone. Mine’s got lava getting ready to come out. That’s how angry I am.”

Driver said he did not hear the police yell "search warrant." He said the family had a newly purchased gun that had “never been fired” for protection in a tough neighborhood.

Craig said the man who was killed by the officer had a 2009 conviction for carrying a concealed weapon and a "fraud case in 2011."

The officer involved in the fatal shooting, a 20-year veteran, has been placed on paid leave and is seeing a psychologist, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings, Craig said.

A task force consisting of Detroit police, Michigan State Police, and "our federal partners" is investigating the shooting, Craig said.

The chief said the officer has not been involved in any shootings during his seven years on the Special Response Team, but four years into his career, while at the 8th Precinct, he did fire his gun at a suspect.

"The suspect fired at him and his partner (and the officers returned fire)," Craig said. "He was exonerated in that matter."

The incident was the fifth shooting by an on-duty officer this year, and the first fatality, officials said. 

Craig said Special Response team officers, who have served 112 high-risk warrants and were involved in 92 barricaded gunman situations in the past two years, have not been involved in a shooting since May 2015.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN