DEARBORN (WWJ) – The death of a woman shot by a Dearborn police officer outside Fairlane Town Center has been ruled a homicide.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner said the woman — identified as 31-year-old Janet Wilson — died of multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death is listed as “homicide.”READ MORE: Oxford Schools Superintendent Issues Statement After Tragedy In Texas
Speaking live on WWJ on Thursday, Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw stressed that this does not necessarily mean the officer who shot her did anything wrong.
“This was a death that was attributed to a firearm, regardless of who fired it, so it’s always going to be ruled a homicide,” Shaw said. “I think, unfortunately, a lot of people and a lot of groups jump on that word ‘homicide’ and think that something wrong has happened. No, this is just an unnatural death and that’s how the M.E. ruled it.”
Shaw said the woman was killed following a police chase, Wednesday afternoon, that began with an incident at JC Penny in the mall.
According to witnesses, the woman “was acting suspiciously” inside the store, security was notified, and security guards followed the woman out into the parking lot. She got into her vehicle, Shaw said — a Chevy HHR — and “almost struck” one of the guard’s vehicles while driving away.
Shaw said 911 was called and Dearborn police tried to make a traffic stop on Hubbard Dr., but the woman allegedly disregarded the lights and sirens. But when the woman got stuck in traffic, Shaw said, the Dearborn officers decided to get out of their car to try to put an end to the pursuit.
“So, as they came and approached the vehicle, the traffic cleared up for her, one of the officers was in front of the car…and as she kind of proceeded on, or tried to hit the gas, and almost struck that officer, one of the officers on the scene fired his duty weapon, striking and killing her,” Shaw said.READ MORE: Michigan Senate Blocks Gun Storage Vote
Was she armed?
“I think a lot of people say, well, she didn’t have any type of gun or anything like that, so why would you do that? She had a 3,000-pound weapon called a vehicle,” said Shaw. “We see more people that are killed than we do, in law enforcement, than actually with handguns. So, yeah, she was armed — she was armed with that car.”
Shaw confirmed that the officer involved, who is now on leave, is white and the woman was black.
“But, what I think is important to notice about this is: Does it matter?” Shaw said. “You have one individual whose family now is mourning their death. You have another individual that had to take somebody’s life. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, yellow, orange, green or brown — that affects all those parties.”
Shaw said State Police will “not get all carried away with the color issue” while they conduct a fair and impartial investigation.
Findings will then be sent to the prosecutor who will make a decision on any possible charges.
Meantime, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality is speaking out about the shooting. A statement by the organization says it appears police sworn to protect and serve are instead are “exercising target practice” on Detroiters and persons of color.MORE NEWS: Detroit Pistons To Play Regular Season Game Against Chicago Bulls In Paris
This is the second fatal shooting in just over a month involving a Dearborn police officer. In December, 35-year-old Kevin Matthews, a mentally ill man, was shot and killed after a foot chase. That case also remains under investigation.