DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Police Chief James Craig is addressing use of force concerns after video of an off-duty cop beating a suspect suspected shoplifter was posted online.
As it turns out, the chief said, the suspect seen in the video being struck with a baton didn’t steal anything from the Meijer store, at 8 Mile and Woodward Ave. in Detroit.
“I think that some of the anger on behalf of the suspect was that he felt that he’d done nothing wrong,” Craig told reporters Monday.
[WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. **NOTE: Contains strong language/profanity]
Craig explained the cop, who is 65 years old and a 39-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department, was working as a security guard at Meijer when he confronted a 23-year-old Detroit man who was suspected of retail fraud — and a struggle ensued.
“The young man, the suspect, then began to force the suspect to the ground,” Craig said. “As that was happening, you can see in the video where the officer’s going to he ground, he administered one blow from his side handle baton striking the suspect in the face, in his frontal face area. And later we learned that…his tooth was broken as a result of that strike.”
Although Craig said it was discovered that no shoplifting had occurred (his companion had a receipt), because he acted aggressively, according to police, the young man was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
“Preliminary I can say that that he acted appropriately,” Craig said of the officer, “given the aggressive behavior of the suspect and his response to it. Also factoring in a growing group of people that surrounded him, certainly there were a lot of things that I can imagine were going through his head.
“So preliminary I can say that the force was proper and that it was responsible to overcome the resistance,” the chief added.
Craig stressed, however, an investigation is ongoing and “issues” may yet be found; especially concerning the tactics that led up to the use of force. What he would have preferred, Craig said, was that the officer request assistance, which could have deescalated the situation.
Both the suspect and the officer involved are black. No names have been released.