Detroit police sergeant suspended for response to fatal shooting of cop

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A Detroit police sergeant was suspended Monday after the city's police chief described his actions as “disturbing” in response to Wednesday’s fatal shooting of Detroit police officer Rasheen McClain.

Police chief James Craig said the sergeant “sat in his scout car a block away while you could hear people screaming ‘officer down’ on the radio.”

Detroit police officers gather on the corners of Wyoming and Chippewa where two Detroit police officers were shot in an ambush-style attack Wednesday night.

The police chief said he’s launched an internal affairs investigation into the 12th Precinct sergeant’s behavior. Craig said when department officials reviewed the shooting, the actions of the sergeant were concerning.

“It was clear to everyone who reviewed the video that he made no effort to get to the scene and take control,” Craig said. “His response was that he was sitting in his car a block away waiting to see if the suspect ran his way. But that’s not acceptable when there’s an officer down.”

Craig said he plans to petition the Board of Police Commissioners to withhold the sergeant’s pay during the suspension.

“He’s been a sergeant about a year-and-a-half, and this kind of alleged behavior is unbecoming of a supervisor,” Craig said.

Mark Young, president of the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association Union, did not immediately return a phone call Monday seeking comment.

The sergeant’s discipline comes after the chief criticized what he said was a “lack of adequate follow-up” to a report that a man earlier this month had fired several shots into a house on Wyoming on Detroit’s west side.

Craig said the 28-year-old suspect returned to the home Wednesday, looking for a 16-year-old girl, and then broke into the house and holed up inside with a rifle.

McClain and his partner, Phillippe Batoum-Bisse, responded at 7:30 p.m. after an occupant of the house dialed 911 to report the home invasion.

McClain called for backup and then led a team of four officers into the house to search for the gunman. As they descended the basement stairs, police officials say the man fired off two shots, striking McClain in the neck and Batoum-Bisse in the left ankle.

Police investigators sent a warrant request to Wayne County Prosecutor's Office seeking murder charges against the suspect, but prosecutors returned the warrant for more work. Craig said more work is unnecessary.

“This is a smoking gun type of case,” he said. “The stuff (prosecutors are) asking for is just more of the same stuff we already did.

“The good news is, (the suspect’s) parole has been revoked, so we can hold him. But what if he wasn’t on parole? We’d have a cop shooter on the streets because we can only hold people for 48 hours."

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office defended how the case was handled.

"l’m disappointed in the chief’s comments," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. "I understand this is a difficult time, but it’s important that he allows my office to do our job.

"The 'stuff' that my office is asking for is valuable investigative information that we need to successfully prosecute the death of one of his police officers. You would think that the chief would want this case — and all cases — prosecuted correctly."

The 28-year-old man accused by police of killing McClain also is suspected in a Nov. 18 shooting on Detroit’s east side in which one person was killed and another wounded. In that case, the alleged shooter opened fire on two men as they sat inside a car on the 3200 block of Harding, Craig said.

The man is also a suspect in a third shooting involving two victims that happened Nov. 17, although Craig said he isn't sure whether that incident is connected to the teen. Both victims in that incident are expected to survive.

Craig said the suspect went to the teenage girl's house on Wyoming earlier this month, and when a relative wouldn't let him inside, he fired several shots from his car into the house. No one was hurt.