Details of inmate's fatal shooting in van emerge

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Martez Webb

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name and age of the inmate who was killed. 

A Wayne County jail inmate who was shot and killed Friday by a sheriff's deputy during a struggle in a medical transport van was in a wheelchair, officials said Monday.

ReadInmate fatally shot by deputy amid 'violent struggle' in ambulance

Pageant Atterberry, spokeswoman for the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, identified the inmate as Martez Webb, 23.

"I can't tell you what led up to the struggle," Wayne County Undersheriff Daniel Pfannes said during a news conference Monday. "One would think his motivation was to escape. It's possible this inmate had other plans.

"Whether it was to bring about harm to the officer or bring about harm to himself, I can't speculate," he said. "We have to wait until the investigation is complete."

Pfannes said Webb has a previous criminal record, which includes weapons charges.

According to records with the Michigan Department of Corrections, Webb was a parolee. MDOC Spokesman Chris Gautz said he had been sentenced on Oct. 6, 2017, in Wayne County to serve one year and six months of probation on a charge of attempting to carry a concealed weapon

His last report to his parole office was on Oct. 2, Gautz said.

Webb was in police custody after he was shot in the leg during a Nov. 12 bank robbery, Atterberry said.  

In an email Tuesday, Pfannes said Webb had been arraigned on Nov. 16 on a Violation of Probation charge. The arraignment was conducted via video from the Detroit Detention Center. 

Webb was then conveyed to an area hospital where he was turned over to the custody of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, Pfannes said. 

Webb remained at the hospital until Nov. 23 when he was released for transport to the infirmary at Wayne County Jail Division 1 in Detroit.

The Michigan State Police and the Detroit Police Department are handling the investigation into Webb's shooting death, Pfannes said Monday.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office said Tuesday Webb died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The incident occurred at 4:25 p.m. Friday on the westbound Interstate 94 ramp at I-75, officials said.

The undersheriff said the sheriff's office had hired a private company to transport the inmate because he was in a wheelchair. Not all of the office's vehicles are equipped to transport inmates who use a wheelchair and it's not known if the ones it does have were in service on Friday, he added. He also said the hospital arranged transportation, not the sheriff's office.

At some point during the trip back to jail, Webb attacked the van's driver and the officer, a sheriff's deputy with more than 13 years of experience, who was seated in the front passenger seat, Pfannes said.

Webb and the officer struggled in the rear of the van as it continued traveling on the freeway.

"It was an extremely violent struggle," the undersheriff said. "It was absolutely life or death."

During the struggle, Webb had taken the deputy's firearm but the officer was able to get it back with the help of the van's driver and shoot the inmate, he said.

"At one juncture, the inmate had control of the deputy's firearm point," Pfannes said. "I think if it hadn't been for the intervention of the driver, it would have been very terrible." 

He also said at one point during the altercation, mace was discharged, but it's not clear who deployed it.

Pfannes said the officer was taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries. He has since been assigned to a job that has minimal contact with inmates while the shooting is investigated.

The van driver was not injured, he said.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez