Roseville man shot, killed by officer Tuesday had 4-inch blade in his hand

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Mount Clemens — More details emerged Wednesday about the man killed by a Roseville police officer who police say came at them with a knife after a car crash.

Frank Robles, 57, of Roseville was shot nine times by the officer after refusing to obey his repeated commands to drop the knife, a 4-inch fish fileting blade, said Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham.

A Macomb County deputy takes photos Tuesday of the crash involving Frank Robles, 57, on Groesbeck Highway north of Martin in Roseville. Police say Robles was shot and killed after lunging at officers with a knife.

Wickersham released the information during a Wednesday news conference at his office in Mount Clemens. Deputies are handling the investigation into theshooting by an officer, which happened at about 6:20 a.m. Tuesday on Groesbeck Highway between Martin and 12 Mile in Roseville. He also released video of the incident from security cameras at businesses as well as officers' body cameras.

"The purpose of today's news conference is to be transparent," the sheriff said. "We feel it's better to get this information out to the citizens and show what transpired."

Roseville Police Chief Ryan Monroe joined the sheriff at the conference.

Monroe said the two officers involved in the incident, a man who is a five-year veteran of the force and a woman who has been with the department for about two to three months, both have been placed on paid leave as the investigation continues.

He said Roseville's officers are trained to use their duty weapons instead of electric stun guns in situations when they are in danger because the less-lethal devices can malfunction.

Police said the fatal shooting happened moments after a car crash involving Robles. Robles was a custodian for Roseville Community Schools.

The gray Chevrolet Silverado pickup Robles was driving veered slightly into an oncoming lane and crashed head-on into a red tractor-trailer traveling north on Groesbeck, the video shows.

As witnesses approached the Silverado to see if the driver was injured, he exited the pickup and produced a knife. They retreated and called police, investigators said. They also reported the man's wrists were cut.

In a 911 call included in the videos released by the Sheriff's Office, a caller described the collision and said the driver got out with a knife. 

"This guy's distraught," the caller told the dispatcher about Robles.

Roseville officers found Robles standing in the roadway holding a knife. They approached him and asked him if he was all right.

Police said he told them "no" and the video showed him taking steps toward the officers.

Police told him repeatedly to drop the knife. After Robles took a few steps, the male officer shot him, knocking him to the ground.

Robles tried to get up with the knife still in his hand, the Sheriff's Office said, and the officer fired several more shots.

Medics were called and took Robles to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said the man driving the semi, a 65-year-old from Ohio, was uninjured.

Roseville's school district superintendent called Robles "a trusted, hardworking individual" who "will be dearly missed."

"I had nothing but positive interactions with him personally," Superintendent Mark Blaszkowski told The Detroit News in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all that were affected by this tragedy. We do have support staff available for his colleagues if they need someone to talk to."

Monroe said police have had previous contact with Robles. He was arrested several years ago for fighting with officers responding to his home for a domestic disturbance complaint.

The incident was the third shooting by a Michigan police officer this week. Michigan State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said MSP is investigating officer-involved shootings that happened Monday in Dearborn and East Lansing.

The East Lansing incident happened at about 6:36 p.m. Monday when East Lansing officers were called to a Meijer store, according to a State Police press release.

"The caller indicated a male subject pulled a gun out of a car, stuck it in his pocket and went into the store," the release said. "ELPD officers arrived on scene and observed a subject in the store that matched the description given by the caller."

Officers chased the man out of the store, the release said. "The officers encountered the subject and shots were fired. The subject was struck and was transported to a local hospital, where he is in stable condition."

A gun was recovered, the release said.

Michigan State Police also were requested to investigate a shooting Monday by a Dearborn Heights police officer, although no details about the incident were released.

Staff Writers Mark Hicks and George Hunter contributed.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez