DETROIT – Detroit Police Chief James Craig says his officers reacted appropriately when they fled a potentially dangerous scene on Sunday night that resulted in the launch of some protesters from the hood of a police vehicle.
“The officers did the right thing,” Craig said during a press conference Monday about the incident.
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During the press conference, Craig showed a trio of videos, including two videos of the cruise ships involved in the incident where protesters surrounded them. The first video shows protesters reclining and jumping on the hood of the vehicle, but the view is obstructed by a signal carried by a protester. You can see people on the hood as the car accelerates.
According to Craig, the vehicle reached speeds of about 25 miles per hour before people fell out of the car. The second video shows what happened from the privileged point of view of being behind the car that surrounded the protesters. That vehicle was able to leave the scene without incident. Each police vehicle at the scene was occupied by two officers.
Craig said the officers were correct in their decision to try to leave the scene, as it was clear that the crowd was agitated and the possibility of violence was growing. For his own safety, Craig said officers needed to withdraw from the scene.
Police received reports of some protesters carrying hammers, according to Craig, who also read an anonymous text from someone he said was at the protest and said the protesters were conspiring to “provoke” the police. Craig would not share the name of the person who allegedly sent the text.
He went on to say that the videos from the police camera and the videos shared on social media show that the officer tried to slowly walk away as the crowd surrounded the vehicle. However, when the police attempted to break through the crowd, the rear window was broken and the police were unsure of what was happening.
“Once they heard the rear window break, it was very loud. They weren’t sure they didn’t get shot at, ”Craig said. “Therefore, it was important for them to get out of there for their safety and certainly the safety of others.”
It was at that moment that the officer began to drive through the crowd. Craig said so far there is no video showing how the window was broken, but he did share photos of the damage to the window and other damage sustained by the vehicles involved.
Craig said the officers involved also reported that those around the vehicle attempted to enter the police car by grabbing the handles. No one could access the interior of any of the police vehicles. The incident began after police officers attempted to redirect protesters marching down Vernor Highway.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing, Craig said.