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Tensions rise over Detroit police killing of man they say fired first at officers

Tresa Baldas and Darcie Moran, Detroit Free Press on

Published in News & Features

DETROIT -- Detroit police fatally shot a man Friday afternoon while investigating a deadly Fourth of July block party -- an incident that quickly escalated and sparked tensions between law enforcement and police brutality protesters.

Police Chief James Craig says the victim was an alleged gang member who pulled a semi-automatic weapon out of his waistband and fired at the officers first.

But demonstrators aren't convinced and have converged on the scene, where 50-plus protesters huddled in the rain chanting "No Justice, No Peace" and "Black Lives Matter" while officers in riot gear stood by.

"We don't back down to bullies with shields!" the crowd yelled, over and over again.

According to Craig, who held a press conference about an hour after the shooting, here is what happened:

At about 12:30 p.m. Friday, Detroit police had gone to a west side neighborhood to arrest a suspect in the Fourth of July killings. While approaching the suspect, he said, a second person arrived at the scene and got into a struggle with an officer, allegedly pulling a semi-automatic pistol from his waist and firing shots over his shoulder at police.


"The officer pushed him away, that's when additional officers, fearing for their lives ... fired several rounds striking the suspect," Craig told reporters at the scene. "We're still very early in this investigation ... Based on what I know right now, this suspect was unprovoked and just fired on the officers."

According to Craig, police have recovered the gun that the suspect allegedly used on police, along with casings from that weapon.

Asar Amenra, a man who described himself as the uncle of the victim, doesn't buy any of it.

"We hear one thing from the police, and another thing from the community. The community told us that the police pulled up, told (him) to get on the ground. He put his hands up, and these mother f-----s shot him in the back of the head," said Amenra, adding his sister had been to the hospital and saw his nephew's body. "He has got two shots in back of his head, plus other bullet wounds."


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