DPD chief: Public must be patient in police involved shootings

Detroit's Police Chief says he understands the public's outrage in the latest police-involved shootings but says patience is needed to ensure the investigation is conducted properly.

The anger has boiled over after police-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. In both cases, the victims were black men and police in those cities and states are investigating. Detroit Police Chief James Craig said even though the public wants answers, they need to be patient and wait for the facts to evolve.

Cell phone video over the past two days showing tragedy of two black men killed by police officers in different parts of the country. The first incident in Louisiana showed Alton Sterling tackled and pinned to the ground before he was shot several times by a police officer. He died from his injuries.

The following day in Minnesota, Philando Castile, a CPL holder, was shot four times by an officer while in the driver's seat. Castile's  finance tells everyone as she sat in the car, Castile told the officer he was reaching for his wallet.

There is more video of both incidents but it is too graphic for television and this website. However, Craig has seen the video and urges patience but says there are things the officers could have done differently.

"I certainly don't want to step out because I don't know all of the facts. I think it's always important to be patient and wait for the outcome of the investigation. But preliminarily we can say are there some things the officers could have done differently," Craig said.

Floyd Dent is no stranger to police officer's response. In January 2015, he was repeatedly beaten by law enforcement during a traffic stop. The case was eventually settled out of court and the offending officer, William Melendez, was sentenced on assault and misconduct in office charges.

Dent says he saw the video of what happened in Louisiana and says it brought back memories of his beating. He said what happened to Sterling could have happened to him.

Still, Craig is urging the public to be patient and not judge every officer in uniform. The reality, Craig says, is that this kind of tragedy only divides police and the community further.

"Let's not be quick to judge. Let's not paint an entire industry of police officers with a broad brush that they're out executing African American men. Until the facts are known. We should wait, and yes we should make sure there is a through investigation," Craig said.  "It does have a divide as I've said here in Detroit, we're fortunate. We have great, not good, but great relationships with our community, and I believe for a large part, we talk to our community."

Craig understands there may be a lot of people in Metro Detrot who are angered by what happened in Lousiana and Minnesota. If something like that happened in Detroit, he hopes the public would wait for an investigation to be complete before reacting.

"And certainly if a tragedy like that were to happen here, we would explain as best we can, asking for patience. I've had to deal with the situations not just here, but other cities. One that comes to mind is when I was in Cincinnati, and a 16 year old black male was shot by a police officer. So you could imagine the anger from that situation involving a teenager. We had to show a video of what happened, and we built within that community."


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