White Castle police shooting ruled justifiable
Royal Oak — An April 10 fatal shooting involving a police officer at a White Castle was ruled justifiable Wednesday by Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, who cited state law that permits an officer to use deadly force when believing his life or those of others are at risk.
Antonino Gordon, 28, was involved in an altercation with Royal Oak Police Officer Keith Bierenga following a traffic pursuit that ended at the restaurant's drive-through window, police said.
Gordon had been spotted driving his BMW in a reckless fashion and had been stopped once by Bierenga near 13 Mile and had driven off.
When the officer spotted him at the location, at 13 Mile and Coolidge, about a half-hour later, he blocked the vehicle with his patrol car and approached the BMW with his service revolver drawn, according to the prosecutor's report.
Gordon reportedly put the BMW in reverse, slamming into a vehicle behind him and was attempting to drive away again when Bierenga jumped out of the way and opened fire.
Gordon drove about a half-mile away before crashing his vehicle. He was later pronounced dead from one gunshot wound in the chest and two in his arms. A test found his blood-alcohol level was about three times the legal limit for motorists; he also tested positive for cannabinoids.
"There is no question this was a very tragic incident for all involved," Leyton said in a press release Wednesday. "What started out as a routine traffic stop quickly escalated into a dangerous felony situation in which Mr. Gordon's own actions on the road and in the parking lot of the White Castle put countless lives at risk including that of Officer Bierenga."
Attorney Joseph Dedjvukaj, who is related to Gordon's widow, said he has requested the U.S. Department of Justice review the case because of "conflict of interests, and (because) the report is fraught with inconsistencies and junk sciences."
"I think it all smells, I think it might have all even started with a case of mistaken identity," said Dedvukaj. He said the prosecutor's report indicated police were initially seeking a black BMW registered to a 70-year-old man and the vehicle Gordon was driving was registered to a 53-year-old man.
The attorney believes Bierenga had friends in both the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office and the Sheriff's Office, which did the investigation. Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe denied there was any conflict in the case concerning the sheriff's office and stressed that the conflict concern was limited to a member of the prosecutor's staff.
"That's the reason why it was passed over to Genesee County," McCabe said.
Dedvukaj said he wants the case to be reviewed again.
"He (the officer) was not in danger, he didn't have to shoot him," said Dedvukaj. "I think we need some fresh eyes to take a look at this and we might have an entirely different outcome."
When asked why Gordon -- if he was not the suspect sought in the earlier traffic stop -- would try to evade Bierenga and speed away from the drive-through window, Gordon responded: "I don't know. The man is dead. I can't ask him that question."