“Officers must place the protection of human life above all other considerations.”
Detroit, MI -- Or so says the official policy of the Detroit Police Department. Yet, on Wednesday, Detroit police continued a high-speed chase into a busy neighborhood, resulting in two small children being killed and others injured.
Brother and sister Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson, ages 6 and 3 respectively, were playing in front of their home when a police car appeared, chasing what appeared to be a red Challenger. According to eyewitnesses, the police car bumped the Challenger, and the car “flew up in the air.” Witnesses heard tire squeals, as if the car was attempting to stop, but by then it was going too fast and had lost control and hit the two small children, killing them instantly.
A friend of the family described the horrible scene:
“[The police] were right on their rear, the police car bumped their tail a little bit, and the car flew up in the air,” the friend said. “There was no need for the police to be that close. I yelled ‘WATCH OUT’ but it was too late. When the car hit them, both of them just looked at me. They screamed. It just keeps re-playing in my head. … I ran down there, I yelled out their names, but they were gone. Makiah’s eyes were wide open, they died on impact.”
“I’m the last one they talked to. They looked at me, they were here, I saw their faces. L’il Mama (Makiah) thought I was going to take them to the park, so she came with me to the sidewalk. I told her I promise I’ll take you to the park tomorrow.”
Even after the car had dragged the children a distance down the street, the police did not stop their pursuit. They continued to chase the car across one front lawn after another, finally crashing, critically injuring three more children including three year old Darius Andrews, Jr., Isaiah Williams, 5, and Zyaire Gardner, 7. Twenty-two-year-old LaKendra Hill sustained injuries. The father of the youngest called seven-year-old Zaire “the real hero,” adding, “He saved my son’s life. He grabbed him and tried to hold him.”
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Police report that the driver of the car they were chasing was 29 year old Lorenzo Harris, who was on parole but had not been reporting in to his parole officer. An unidentified passenger in the car was also in serious condition.
As to other details of the event, police reports are conflicting. On the night of the incident, police Chief James Craig said that the police car had already stopped the chase after they “lost sight of the car.” After many eyewitnesses had refuted that claim, Craig said that a supervisor had ordered a stop to the pursuit.
Furthermore, in an early report, Craig claimed that police saw an occupant of the car holding a gun. The next day the chief said there was no gun, and that the case started when the police “made eye contact” with the occupants of the car.
Two small children being killed while playing in their own front yard and several more being injured during a pursuit over what may have been nothing more than a parole violation shows a drastic imbalance in police judgment and in police priorities. For the police to create such a horribly dangerous situation - a situation that proved tragically fatal - sends a very clear message. Those with badges are far more concerned with having control and gaining compliance by any means necessary than they are with actually protecting the innocent.
On paper, the official policy of the Detroit Police Department includes this:
“Members involved in a pursuit must question whether the seriousness of the violation warrants continuation of the pursuit. A pursuit shall be discontinued when, in the judgment of the primary unit, there is a clear and present danger to the public which outweighs the need for immediate apprehension of the violator. Officers must keep in mind that a vehicle pursuit has the same potential for serious injury or death as the use of fatal force. … Officers must place the protection of human life above all other considerations.”
Their true attitude, priorities, “policy” is written in the blood of small children on those front lawns. Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrible tragedy.
The family of Mikiah and Michael Angelo Jackson has set up a GoFundMe account to help with their funeral expenses, which they said they cannot afford.