Man killed by Detroit police carried gun as he ran away, video shows

July 27, 2020, 7:54 PM

The latest victim of a deadly Detroit police shooting was running away from officers with a gun in hand before he was fatally shot, newly released police videos shows.

Police Chief James Craig played bodycamera footage of the Thursday incident at a news conference Monday, saying the man repeatedly "pointed" a gun at an officer trailing him during a foot chase in which his arms flailed as he ran.

It was the second of three shootings by Detroit officers in July. On Sunday, an officer shot and injured a man who Craig said they saw with a concealed weapon on his hip.

The man killed Thursday was suspected in a July 19 quadruple shooting that left one teen dead and three injured. When officers approached him as part of their investigation, he jumped in a Mercury Grand Marquis that led them on a more than 10-minute high speed chase throughout the east side. The car drove onto sidewalks and risked causing an accident, Craig said. The driver did at one point "strike several" police cars, he added.

The vehicle chase ended when the car ran into a tree and the three men fled, leading officers on a foot chase. The man with the gun in hand was shot within a span of approximately five seconds, as another officer caught up with him and appeared to try to take him down. He was shot in the back, Craig said.

Craig paused the video at two points to show the man "pointed" a gun at an officer, but when the video is played through it's unclear whether that was intentional.

“When you’re talking about an armed suspect, they’re not always easy answers, but clearly this officer performed in a manner in which we train for,” Craig said.“It’s a difficult situation. You’ve got a hair of a second. Do you shoot or not shoot? And sometimes you don’t shoot and an officer [makes] the ultimate sacrifice.”

Attorney David Robinson, a former Detroit police officer who now brings civil rights cases against the department, said the shooting appeared justifiable.

“There is substantial case law that an officer can shoot a fleeing felon who poses a significant threat to others," he said in a text message. "This was a person fleeing the cops suspected of a serious felony and carrying a gun. Under those facts, an officer can use deadly force."

Details on Sunday's incident, meanwhile, are more scant. Craig said the department is still reviewing video, but preliminarily, an officer shot a 27-year-old man during a foot chase. Craig said officers encountered him while on a separate detail and stopped him because they noticed a gun on his hip. Project Green Light video footage from a gas station separately showed him selling drugs, Craig said officers later learned.

The man ran when officers approached and was shot several times when one feared he might be shot, Craig said. It remained unclear whether the gun was ever in the man's hand. It was found roughly six feet from where he was shot, Craig said.

The chief, who has previously advocated for residents in the city to take up arms, decried what he described as the proliferation of illegal weapons. He said the department seized 537 illegal guns between June 22 and July 19.

Craig blamed the high number of police killings on an anti-police brutality movement he says has "emboldened suspects." The shootings have come amid a recent spike in violence during the pandemic.

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