By AMBER HUNT
Free Press Staff Writer
Members of a Detroit group opposing police brutality raised questions about his morning’s shooting of five police officers in which one was killed, four injured.
Tijuana Morris, 55, a retired Detroit officer and member of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, urged people to wait for the facts to come out before reacting.
“Right now, I’d ask people to be calm,” she said. “Just don’t act irrationally.”
Ron Scott, the coalition’s president, said the shooting isn’t surprising given the complaints he’s heard recently, most of which he said stem from Evans’ Mobile Strike Force. Complaints have jumped 208% this year, he said.
He said it’s unusual that a supposed drug dealer would open fire on officers rather than surrender and face a prison stint.
“It’s odd that anyone would want to run,” he said.
Detroit Police spokesman John Roach said complaints against the department’s gang squad, which makes up much of the strike force, indeed are up, but that it’s because the officers are more proactive in dealing with residents. The police units are dispatched to hot spots to spot suspicious activity and investigate before a crime is committed rather than wait for a 911 call, he said.
Officer John Bennett said Scott’s comments were premature and insensitive.
“This is not the time for that,” he said. “This is a time for grieving.”
Police Chief Warren Evans has credited the new approach with a decrease in both nonfatal shootings and homicides. Strike force officers have confiscated more than 1,000 illegal guns, officials have said.
Scott, speaking to reporters at the shooting scene, said police should investigate whether any of the officers’ injuries were the result of friendly fire. Roach said that’s being looked at but that the slain officer is believed to have been killed by the suspect’s gunfire.
Whether the other officers were struck by each other’s bullets isn’t yet known, he said.
Scott said the strike force, designed to respond to crime hot spots, is “trampling” on people’s constitutional rights. The adversity is causing antagonism between officers and residents, he said.
That may have heightened the suspect’s response when officers arrived, he added.
“I’m not blaming Chief Evans — that’s too strong a word,” he said. “I’d like to know what happened in the house.”