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Detroit police fatally shoot suspect on city's east side

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit police fatally shot a man Thursday who they said was a suspect in a nearby shooting Sunday that left four teens wounded, Chief James Craig said.

More:Police: Quadruple shooting of teens led to fatal east-side encounter

Craig told reporters the man, who was not identified by police, was in a car that fled officers and following a high-speed pursuit, crashed into a pole near McKinney and Whittier on the city's east side at about 6:30 p.m. The man was armed with a handgun when he left the vehicle, Craig said.

"Believing that his life was in danger," the officer fired a single shot, striking the man, the chief said.

Police rendered aid at the scene before the man was rushed to a local hospital and pronounced dead, Craig said.

Two other people with the man in the vehicle allegedly ran off but were taken into custody, the chief said. One had been under surveillance by the city's 9th Precinct and police gang intelligence unit after authorities linked him to the block party party on Sunday where four teens were shot, Craig said. 

The officers "were doing what we asked them to do: find out who was responsible for those teenagers who were shot," Craig said.

Two of the youths in the Sunday shooting, which was believed to be gang-related, "are in grave condition right now," he said. "They may not make it."

The other teens were in critical condition, Craig said. 

Police recovered a weapon from the suspect as well as another pistol from the vehicle.

The chief said investigators are reviewing any available dashboard or body cam footage of the incident.

The officer who shot the man has been placed on restricted duty, Craig said.

"Our prayers go out to the family (of) the suspect who is no longer here," he said. "But I'm also thankful that none of our officers were injured."

Tristan Taylor, an organizer with the activist group Detroit Will Breathe, which has held daily demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism, came to the shooting scene late Thursday seeking more details about the shooting.

He called for police to immediately release video of the encounter as well as the name and history of the officer involved.

"We understand what the police say. We just want confirmation of whether or not that was the scene that played out," Taylor said, adding "we’ve had too many instances where what they said happened isn’t what actually happened."

It is the second fatal police shooting this month. Detroit police on July 10 shot Hakim Littleton.  Police video appears to show him firing on officers at close range. Three officers fired on Littleton, killing the 20-year-old.

Craig said officers were at the scene because of a shooting the previous week that was gang-related. As officers arrested a suspect on an outstanding warrant, Littleton, police said, walked up to officers, reached into his left pocket of his shorts, and pulled out a gun. He fired a few feet from an officer's head but missed. 

Protests erupted at the scene of the northwest-side shooting in the wake of nationwide demonstrations.

Thursday's shooting added to the rising violence in the city.

The White House plans to deploy federal agents to Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee in the coming weeks as part of the Trump administration's "law-and-order" intervention initiative to combat crime.

Last month, Craig attributed a 7.5% increase in violent crimes in part to the "tremendous tension" in being forced to stay home in response to the pandemic and the then stay-at-home rules in place, though Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order helped curb property crimes in the city, he said.

During his press conference Thursday, the police chief said: "We recognize that there’s too much violence and we’re doing everything we can to mitigate that. ... The violence must stop. And we’re relentless about going after individuals who create violence in our community. And we’re not backing off."