Police: Undercover Detroit police officer fatally shot man

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — An "extremely violent weekend" in the city culminated on the east side Sunday when an undercover Detroit police officer fatally shot a man who drew a gun on him, interim police chief James White said.

The officer shot the man after he slammed a stolen Dodge Charger into a Detroit police undercover vehicle, and then leveled a 9mm pistol at the cop, White said Monday during a press briefing at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.

White added that detectives have video of the shooting, and will use it in their investigation into the actions of the officer, who is on paid leave pending the results of the probe, per union contract rules.

White said the officer was working an undercover drag racing detail when he saw a crowd gathering for a race and called for backup and air support. More than 200 vehicles showed up for the race, he said.

"The undercover vehicle was parked, and (a blue Dodge Charger that was stolen from Dearborn) passed the wrong way down a one-way street," White said. "It made several repetitions at a high rate of speed."

White said four men were in the Charger, three of whom were, "sitting on the ledge, hanging out of the vehicle.

"The driver loses control of the vehicle at some point, it strikes our undercover vehicle in the rear of the driver's side, at which point one of the passengers who was sitting on the ledge was ejected from the suspect's vehicle," White said. "The others jump out and start to run; the suspect who was ejected runs."

The officer was wedged inside his vehicle and had to kick his way out, White said.

"The siren inside the undercover vehicle was initiated by the impact, so there's an audible siren coming from the undercover vehicle, and our officer is kicking the door open to get out," White said.

A slide shown at a Detroit police press conference shows the result of an impact between a stolen blue Dodge Charger, left, and an undercover Detroit police vehicle. After the Charger slammed into the police vehicle, a man leveled a 9mm pistol at an undercover officer, who fatally shot the man, police said.

"He gets out, sees our suspect who is reaching for something, and he yells, 'police!' The suspect produces a weapon, the officer says 'drop it,' and the officer uses fatal force when the suspect refuses to drop the weapon," White said.

The suspect ran for a short distance before collapsing, White said. "He later died from his injuries," he said.

"This is a very unfortunate and sad situation," White said. "The officer was doing what he was supposed to do, trying to curtail this very dangerous drag racing ... our condolences go out to the family of the suspect. Regardless of how we got here, this is someone's son, so our condolences to them as we go through this process."

White said police are trying to get a handle on drag racing, which he said is the most often heard complaint from citizens.

"There were more than 200 vehicles at last night's event, and there was one at Outer Drive and Vasser where there were 300 vehicles," he said. "They're taking over entire areas. This is an unsafe situation ... it's a huge quality of life issue for our residents."

Three teens shot near football game

White said the shooting was one of several incidents during "an extremely violent weekend." He also discussed at the press briefing an earlier shooting on the city's west side that wounded three male victims, a 14-year-old and two 15-year-olds.

The shooting, which happened near a youth football game, was the result of a "beef on social media," White said.

The incident happened at about 6 p.m. near McCabe Field on Boston Boulevard, home of the West Side Cubs, a former Detroit Police Athletic team that is now part of the Greater Metro Youth Football League.

"There were between 400-600 people there to watch their children play," White said. "At some point, a group of teenagers outside the field are gathered. At least two cars pull up occupied by teens and adults. Some kind of conflict ensues and shots are fired."

The teens who were shot were all part of one group that had argued on social media with the other group, White said. They were expected to recover from their injuries, White said.

Officers were nearby and were able to respond quickly to the shooting, White said. They made six arrests, he said.

Police are looking for a brown Jeep Cherokee in connection with the shooting. White said witnesses saw the driver with multiple long guns, White said.

"This all started over a social media dispute," White said. "They were going back and forth on social media, challenging each other.

"We're seeing a lot of poor decision-making, and people solving relatively simple disputes with firearms," White said. "We need better decision-making, better personal responsibility, better parent oversight, and better policing. We're only one cog in this solution."

The Associated Press contributed.


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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN