Victim: Suspect didn't think about Jesus in carjacking
Phyllis Knox said she cringed when she saw video footage of a carjacking suspect crying out to Jesus as he lay face down on a snow-covered Detroit sidewalk during a violent police arrest.
"He didn't think about Jesus when he stuck his gun in my face, and in my grandkids' face," Knox said Wednesday.
The 55-year old medical assistant said she was carjacked Monday by Andrew Jackson Jr., setting in motion a heated debate caused by the video, which shows police officers striking and kicking at him as they attempt to handcuff him, and delivering more blows after his hands were secured.
Some, including Grosse Pointe Public Safety Director David Hiller, say the force officers used was justified in subduing a dangerous and armed criminal. Others insist the use of force was over the line.
Knox said she was brushing snow off her 2011 Chevy HHR outside her northwest Detroit apartment building at about 7:40 a.m., with her two grandsons, 9 and 12, seated inside the vehicle waiting to be taken to school. She said the man she identified as Jackson approached her, pulled out a gun and announced a holdup.
"This man was violent," Knox said of the alleged carjacker. "He waved his .45 in my face, and pointed it at my grandchildren. Every time I close my eyes, I see that guy's face. I can't get it out of my mind. It's a horrible feeling."
A cellphone video of Jackson's arrest, recorded by a woman who lived nearby, has gone viral, prompting a Michigan State Police investigation and stirring outrage by some who say the use of force by members of the ACTION multijurisdictional car theft unit went too far.
The Michigan Department of Corrections identified Jackson as the 51-year-old suspect, said spokesman Chris Gautz. State records show Jackson was convicted in 2004 of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, assault with intent to rob while armed and fleeing a police officer.
At first, Knox said she didn't feel threatened by the man who was approaching her early Monday morning.
"I had a broom in my hand and was cleaning off my car when I saw someone walking northbound out of the corner of my eye," Knox said. "He was wearing a security guard's jacket and had a lunch bag in his hand. I've seen him around the neighborhood before, and I really didn't think he was much of a threat."
But the man suddenly whipped out a pistol from his right pocket, Knox said.
"He said, 'Don't move; I'm taking your car,' " she said. "I started yelling, 'Please don't take my grandkids.' "
Knox said Jackson opened the car door and aimed his pistol at the children.
"He was waving it in their faces, and told them, 'Get out before I shoot your asses,' " Knox said.
The oldest child didn't immediately respond to the order.
"He gets confused, and he wasn't moving. His brother was telling him, 'Come on; you've got to get out of the car before this guy shoots us,' " she said.
"It's a terrifying feeling, and I keep playing it in my mind over and over again: Someone's trying to harm my grandchildren, and I can't do anything to help them."
'You're going to hell!'
Knox's grandchildren eventually scrambled out of the car, and Knox, who suffers from a lung disease, said she begged Jackson to allow her to keep her purse, which contained her inhaler and blood pressure medication.
"He said, 'You don't seem to understand what's happening: You're being robbed,' " Knox said.
As Jackson drove off with her car, Knox said she yelled after him: "You're going to hell!"
Knox said her cellphone's minutes had expired, but she was still able to dial 911. She said Detroit police showed up within minutes and found the lunch bag Jackson had left on the ground next to the broom she'd dropped when he pointed the gun at her.
"There was cereal inside the bag — Apple Jacks," she said. "The police said they might be able to get fingerprints off it."
After officers took statements from Knox and the two children and left the scene, she said she recalled that her car had a GPS tracking device and kill switch installed. "I called the security people, and they called the ACTION car theft team," she said.
Knox said she stayed in her apartment all day with her grandchildren, reliving the terrifying few minutes.
"My grandkids didn't go to school; I didn't go to work," she said. "We were pretty shaken."
At 4:05 p.m. Monday, about 81/2 hours after the robbery, Knox said she got a call from police.
"They told me they'd apprehended the suspect," she said. "I felt relieved that this guy was going to jail."
'I'm still terrified'
The day after the carjacking, Knox said her grandchildren alerted her to a television news report that aired the video of Jackson's arrest.
"I hadn't been paying attention to the media, but they told me there was a video on the news showing the police arresting the man who robbed us, and that the police were hitting him. They said, 'Good — he deserved it.' "
Knox said she has since seen the video, and feels the officers were justified.
"People have to understand: Those officers knew this man was armed, and had just pointed his gun at me and my grandchildren," she said. "Then, they're chasing him (on foot) for several blocks. So when they finally get him down, and he starts reaching for his gun, what are they supposed to do?
"I don't feel sorry for that felon," Knox said.
The woman who filmed the arrest, Detroit resident Emma Craig, is heard on the video criticizing the police. Knox said her outrage should be aimed at criminals.
"It's too bad that lady doesn't go out and film all the drug dealers in the neighborhood that are making life miserable for people who have to live there," she said. "We need to help the police; they're trying to make it safe for people who obey the law. But it seems everyone wants to make the police out to be bad people, and make these criminals out to be the victims."
Knox said those protesting the police action should be more concerned with neighborhood crime.
"Why don't they march to get these criminals off the street who are making life so miserable for people trying to raise their kids? We have to worry about our kids getting killed out there; why don't they go march against that?"
Knox said she plans to buy a gun. "After this, I just don't feel safe without one," she said. "You can't play with these people out there. Detroit has just gotten so bad. I want to move out.
"I'm still terrified. But I'm not going to be a victim. I'll tell you one thing: That guy is lucky he had a gun, or I'd have whipped his ass with that broom I had in my hands."