STATEMENT ABOUT DPD’S RECENT SHOOTINGS

Following three police shootings Detroit WIll Breathe calls press conference demanding for full accountability and the resignation of James Craig from Detroit Police Department.

Today Detroit Police Chief James Craig held a press conference discussing two separate incidents where police shot two different suspects in the process of fleeing. These police shootings are two of three incidents within two weeks of police firing at suspects, two of which were fatal. In two of the cases the victims shot by the police were on the ground when they were shot, in the last case police have released no details. The Detroit Police Department does not have the right to murder “suspects”. Both the two fatal shootings and the non-fatal shooting were quickly deemed “justifiable” by Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

On July 23rd, 2020 Gang unit officers from the 9th precinct engaged in a high speed chase resulting in a victim crashing the vehicle into a light pole at Mckinney and Whittier. Three people exited the vehicle and attempted to flee. One of the young men was surrounded by police, dragged to the ground and shot dead. Chief Craig called the shooting justified because an officer “saw a gun” and was “in fear for his life,” despite an edited body cam footage clearly showing the young man never having been in a position to fire the weapon. Yet again, on July 26th DPD shot and critically wounded an unarmed Black man while he was on the ground near Plymouth and Wyoming. This marks the 3rd officer involved shooting in the past three weeks. This highlights the need for a mass movement to hold police accountable for their actions, and to end the dangerous precedent of police officers being justified to use deadly force with impunity. Deadly force should be the last resort, not the first reaction, and certainly not automatically justifiable. Craig’s assertion that you are “either going to die or go to prison” if you encounter DPD’s gang unit is another example of his lack of concern for the sanctity of Black life. This, coupled with his invitation to federal forces to occupy the city and exacerbate the ongoing brutalization of our communities by the police shows that he has more in common with Donald Trump than the people of Detroit.

Given how swiftly DPD released the video of the shooting of Hakim Littleton, we know it is possible for DPD to have produced the full videos of the shootings by now. We demand the immediate release of the videos and audio recordings from all officers present and dash camera footage from the cars with no edits in both incidents. We demand the names, badge numbers, and records of every officer present in both incidents. On the east side, DPD decided to pursue the suspects in a high speed car chase through a residential area when the suspects posed no immediate threat to police officers and those around them. This reckless action was unacceptable and could have led to the death or serious harm of community members.

DPD’s current leadership has failed to bring basic accountability and control to the department and is instead welcoming violent federal troops into communities under the guise of controlling crime. The invitation of federal officers into Detroit for the purpose of policing Black communities reiterates that Chief Craig is unfit to lead. The greenlighting of a federal incursion into the city will inevitably lead to more harm, violence, murder and devastation in Black communities. Therefore, Chief Craig must resign from his post for reigning over a rogue municipal police force and encouraging federal troops to terrorize Detroiters.