Detroit police chief defends officers who drove SUV through group of protesters

Cheryl Sanders
July 1, 2020

I was just holding onto the vehicle.

"In response to that, he just floored it", [Jae Bass, 24] said.

A clash between Detroit police and protesters was caught on camera Sunday night.

"And again in their mind, as according to our investigation, they believed they could be shot at, or were being fired upon and because of that they had to take quick, evasive action", Police Chief James Craig told reporters Monday.

The video shows the police vehicle's rear window intact at around the 14-second mark, but 30 seconds later, it appears to have a large hole in it. Craig said that, at this point, video analysis does not show what broke the rear window, but that there were reports it was broken by a skateboard.

Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man, died while in police custody on May 25, and his death sparked an avalanche of protests across the nation.

As two guys remained on the auto, the SUV accelerated for a fourth time and after around 100 feet, both the guys, including Bass, were tossed from the auto as the rest of the livid protestors pursued the vehicle.

Ethan Ketner, who posted the video, said 10 to 12 people were struck by the police vehicle and some had been hospitalized.

Marchers traveled more than six miles, starting at the police department's 4th Precinct, 4700 W. Fort southwest Detroit. We went flying off. One of the protesters said the officer "ran over a couple people's arms, feet". One of two told the Free Press he was trying to stop the vehicle from endangering the group.

Officers appeared to engage their lights and sirens before they started moving.

"We knew then that we needed to not put ourselves in a position where a group of criminals would surround and attack the vehicle", he said.

Video shows a group of people crowded around a police SUV - its lights strobing - as they chant.

At least one protester appears to be left on the hood, hanging on to the vehicle as it speeds away, and is later thrown from it as the auto drives off.

Before the confrontation, Craig said police had learned some demonstrators "were armed with hammers", though he was unable to provide details on the source of the information. The scene, they say, escalated after one of the protesters busted out the cruiser's back window. The first three nights of the Detroit protests, in May, involved some violence on the part of both officers and demonstrators.

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