A man who drove through a Detroit crime scene where five people were shot and one person died in a car crash was fatally shot by police early Monday following a pursuit and gun battle, the city’s police chief said.
The shooting of the 27-year-old man was caught on police video, snippets of which were shown to reporters at a news conference. More than a dozen shots appeared to have been fired by the man and officers.
“Clearly, this was a suspect that we had to apprehend,” Chief James Craig said. “Clearly he was focused on one thing and one thing only, to kill a police officer.”
Officers were investigating the earlier shooting, which occurred about 10:50 p.m. Sunday on the city’s west side, when the man drove by in an SUV and fired a shot that struck a police vehicle, Craig said.
Officers pursued the SUV, which drove through neighborhoods, downtown, onto a freeway and then into Detroit’s east side at speeds estimated at more than 100 mph (161 kph).
The SUV stopped in a parking lot and the driver got out and fired shots at one officer, who returned fire. He then ran a few blocks before officers in a police SUV caught up. Shots again were fired and the man collapsed.
He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Police recovered a .40-caliber handgun. His name was not immediately released.
Craig said the man’s mother told investigators that he was distraught after a close friend was slain during a recent shooting at a dice game.
“We don’t know if he was going through a state of depression at the time,” Craig said. “We’re trying to figure out what would be the motive in an unprovoked way to attack Detroit police officers for no apparent reason.”
Police also were working to determine whether the man had any connection to the Sunday shooting in which four men, ages 18 to 36, and a 30-year-old woman were wounded.
Suspects involved in that shooting drove away and struck another vehicle then ran away. A person in the second vehicle was killed.
Craig said the police video was shown hours after the shooting as part of the department’s efforts to be transparent. It comes amid scrutiny over police shootings across the country.
On Thursday, Chicago police released video from an officer’s body camera that showed him pursuing a 13-year-old boy down an alley on March 29 after investigating reports of shots fired. The teen could be seen in the video holding a handgun as the officer yells “Hands! Hands! Show me your (expletive) hands!”
As Adam Toledo turned, raising both hands, the officer, Eric Stillman, fired once, striking the teen in the chest. He later died. A handgun was found behind a fence where Toledo stood before being shot.
Craig said the Detroit police video from Monday’s shooting showed “heroic” officers.
“What you will see are officers running toward gunfire, putting themselves in harm’s way,” Craig said.
“We have seen an increase in violence directed at police officers, not just here in Detroit, but around this country,” he added. “Personally, I think it’s the anti-police rhetoric.”
Craig also on Monday called recent comments by two elected leaders following the April 11 fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a Black man, by a white police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, “reckless.”
“That’s not leadership,” Craig said. “Because you sit in a seat of influence, you carry a great deal of responsibility.”
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, joined protesters Sunday in Brooklyn Center, outside Minneapolis. She said an 11 p.m. curfew set by authorities was as a way to tamp down demonstrations and encouraged the crowd of roughly 150 people to “stay in the street.”
Wright’s death was caught on police bodycam. Police said the officer mistakenly fired her gun instead of a Taser.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Detroit Democrat, wrote on Twitter that the shooting “wasn’t an accident.”
“Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist,” Tlaib continued. “Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”
Craig said he firmly believes “those comments can fuel anger.”
Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.
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