Detroit chief blames ‘anti-police rhetoric’ for spate of gun incidents
Detroit – After a week of four suspects firing either shots or firearms at Detroit police officers, the city’s chief constable on Monday criticized the “rhetoric against the police,” which he believes are fueling the violence, and community leaders he is against there should be more pronouncing it.
During a press conference at the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters, Police Chief James Craig said the four violent incidents had increased the number to six in the first three months of 2021, compared to 12 cases last year in which suspects were shot or fired aimed at Detroit officials had fired.
“As the rhetoric against the police continues, criminals feel encouraged and become more violent towards the police,” said Craig. “It’s not just happening in Detroit. Police across the country are taking care of it, too.”
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which records deaths of police officers on duty across the country, there were 67 deaths of officers on duty in 2021, up 191% from the same period last year. Thirty-eight of those deaths were COVID-related, which accounted for part of the increase, although 11 officials were killed by gunfire this year – a 38% increase over the same period in 2020.
“I have never seen a week like last week with four officers shot at or guns pointed at them, although we did notice a trend of increased violence against officers after the murder of George Floyd,” said Craig, referring to Floyd , a Minneapolis resident who died on May 25 after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
Chauvin’s trial for second degree murder began Monday, although jury selections were suspended pending appeal proceedings attempting to reopen third degree murder charges against the ex-officer.
Craig said the months of protests sparked by Floyd’s death created an anti-police atmosphere.
“These senseless acts of violence must come to an end,” he said. “Here’s the question, who will stand with us to denounce this violence? We know some who are recognized as community leaders who, when asked to stand with us, politely said they would not.”
Craig said the most recent case of police violence last week was Saturday morning when 8th Ward officials saw a car back into another vehicle before the driver fled.
“The officers then tried to drive over the car, but the car kept going,” said Craig. “While the police were following the car, someone on the passenger side allegedly shot our officers out of the window.”
After a chase, the car jumped over the curb at Winthrop and Davison’s and the occupants ran away. Police eventually used a K-9 tracking unit to arrest an adult and four teenagers.
On March 4, officials shot and killed a man after allegedly running towards them with an AR-15 rifle. In this case, officials were called to a Sunoco gas station after receiving reports that a man was inside threatening customers with a gun.
The man identified by Craig as Anthony Winn had disappeared when the police arrived. They caught up with him a few blocks before he ran into a house, said Craig. After firing outside several times, Craig said Winn ran straight towards a group of officers who opened fire.
Winn, who was temporarily in grave condition, was charged with a criminal in possession of a firearm, Craig said.
On March 1, there were two violent incidents against police officers in Detroit. At around 9:45 am, officers got into a shooting with Chandra Moore, who police said had killed his wife and two other people in Cincinnati before escaping to Detroit and hiding in Rivertown Inn & Suites on Jefferson Avenue.
Moore died from his injuries on Friday.
About three hours later that Monday, an off duty officer from the 12th district was shot and killed during a traffic incident near the Chrysler Freeway and Seven Mile, Craig said.
“This person was arrested but has since been released, and detectives are working on an arrest warrant package,” the chief said.
Willie Bell, chairman of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners and a Detroit police officer for 32 years, said he was also concerned about the recent wave of violence against officials.
“We should all be concerned and on Thursday (during the weekly Police Headquarters meeting) I hope my board will make a decision,” Bell said. “And our community leaders need to take a stand on this issue.”