Chief: Video shows man shot by officer was holding a gun

George Hunter
The Detroit News
Detric Driver, also known as Abdullah Abdul Muhiman

A Detroit police officer's body camera footage shows a man was holding a gun when he was fatally shot last week by a member of the investigative team hunting the killer of a 5-year-old girl, police chief James Craig said Thursday.

The man, Detric Driver, also known by his Muslim name, Abdullah Abdul Muhiman, was killed Friday as officers entered his home in the 9200 block of Evergreen.

Craig said police had a search warrant to enter the dwelling after getting a tip that a suspect in the previous day's slaying of 5-year-old Isabella Coleman, and nonfatal shooting of her mother, Dejiza Coleman, as they lay in bed together in their home in the 19000 block of Lyndon.

During earlier updates about last week's officer-involved shooting, Craig said the video he reviewed did not conclusively show Driver was carrying a gun, although he said another officer's footage showed a gun was recovered from the living room floor.

But during Thursday's Detroit Board of Police Commissioners meeting, Craig said a closer review showed Driver was holding a gun as members of the department's Special Response Team entered the house.

Black Lives Matter advocates have launched an online campaign questioning the official story of how police officers investigating the Coleman shooting killed Driver. Many posters claim police mistakenly entered the wrong house — a claim Craig rejected Thursday.

Craig addressed the #JusticeforDullahbeard Twitter campaign alleging police entered the wrong house and mistakenly killed Driver. 

"I want to clarify a few points," Craig told the board. "What's been said is that we went to the wrong house. That's factually not true."

Craig said a Jeep that was seen leaving the shooting scene on Lyndon was recovered from the Evergreen house. He added that the suspect officers were looking for in connection with the shooting was in the Evergreen dwelling and placed under arrest.

"We did go to the right house," Craig said. "We got a tip that a suspect was at that location, and a judge signed a search warrant ... and we did arrest a person of interest we were looking for at that location."

Craig said body-cam video shows the Special Response Team officers clearly announced their presence before deploying a flash-bang grenade. The officers then entered the house before shots rang out, he said.

"While this person we ended up using deadly force on was not identified as a suspect in this investigation, I cannot conclusively say he was not involved, because the investigation is ongoing," Craig said. "But I saw the video. The suspect prior to the shooting was in fact holding a gun. I saw it; my team has saw it. I don't want to go into too much more detail because this is still an active investigation."

An AR-15-style pistol-grip gun was recovered from the scene, Craig said. Coleman's sister and uncle were arrested, although they've since been released because there wasn't enough evidence to charge them within the mandated 48 hours.

Craig stressed during Thursday's meeting that the two suspects have not been ruled out.

"We had to release them within 48 hours," he said. "That does not mean at some point they will not be charged."

The day after Driver's shooting, Craig said the Homicide Task Force, made up of Detroit officers and Michigan State Police, would investigate the incident.

But he said Wayne County prosecutors later suggested Detroit investigators recuse themselves from the probe, since the team also was involved in the investigation of the shooting of Isabella and her mother, who is recovering in Sinai-Grace Hospital.

Craig said he agreed with prosecutors. The case is now being probed by state investigators from the Flint post.

After Isabella was shot, Craig said officers put her in the backseat of their squad car and rushed her to the hospital. She died at the hospital, he said.

On Thursday, board chairman Willie Bell commended the officers.

"When you have officers responding to the scene of a 5-year-old getting shot, and rushing that child to the hospital ... that's why we appreciate them," Bell said.
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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN