Feds to provide help to Dearborn cops after shootings

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
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Federal officials plan to review the Dearborn Police Department’s use of force policies as well as provide additional training to officers.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade made the announcement Thursday. It comes in the wake of two shootings in the past year involving Dearborn police officers.

“This announcement does not relate to the resolution of the two shootings that occurred in Dearborn,” she said. “Both of those matter remain under investigation.”

McQuade made the remarks during a news conference held at the Dearborn Police Department’s headquarters on Michigan Avenue. She was joined by Noble Wray, head of Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly and Police Chief Ronald Haddad.

McQuade said the Department of Justice is assisting Dearborn Police at police department’s request.

“Chief Haddad was pro-active in light of those shootings and said he wanted to take some action to make sure his department was doing everything right to improve its processes so it doesn’t have problems going forward,” McQuade said. “It was very forward-looking.”

Haddad said he contacted the justice department because he wanted an independent, critical review of his agency’s use of force policy.

“I’ve been at this for more than 43 years, and I clearly recognize that nothing splits the community apart more than the use of force issue,” he said. “So I want to make sure that our use of force policy is not only a best practice, but most civil to our community.”

Wray said his office will do four key things for Dearborn police: provide an independent, critical review of officers’ use of force, review and develop a recruitment strategy geared toward a diverse population, conduct training to reduce implicit bias and make recommendations for best practices.

He said his office’s consultation to Dearborn police should be completed by the end of the year and is being done at no cost to the city.

In January, a Dearborn police officer fatally shot a Detroit woman outside of Fairlane Town Center. Police said the woman, Janet Wilson, 31, fled from security and officers outside the mall. Witnesses told investigators the woman was “distraught” and incapacitated.

Michigan State Police, which is investigating the shooting, said Wilson later appeared to have tried to hit a security guard outside and a vehicle with a Chevrolet HHR, refused to stop for Dearborn police who tried to pull her over, then almost struck an officer while speeding away.

An officer pulled out a weapon and shot at her, state police said.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office determined her death was a homicide, the result of multiple gunshots.

Michigan State Police said Wednesday its investigation into the shooting is still ongoing.

A month earlier, Kevin Matthews, 35, an unarmed African-American man, was shot by a Dearborn police officer on Dec. 23.

Friends and family described Matthews as harmless and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

But Dearborn police said he went for an officer’s gun before he was fatally shot on Whitcomb on Detroit’s west side. Detroit Police are investigating that shooting.

McQuade said it’s possible that her office may become involved in the investigation at some point.

Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.

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