Detroit chief opens internal investigation after officer's death

Chief James Craig said a previous investigation could have prevented the shooting death of Officer Rasheen McClain


Gina Kaufman, Omar Abdel-Baqui and Elisha Anderson
Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Detroit's top cop has raised the possibility that the fatal shooting of an officer this week could have been prevented if the suspect had been properly investigated for an earlier shooting. 

Chief James Craig has launched an internal investigation to find out what went wrong, saying he is angry and "some people are going to be held accountable."

Detroit Police Chief James Craig, left, speaks to the media about two officers who were shot Wednesday evening while responding to a home invasion on Detroit's west side. (Photo/AP)
Detroit Police Chief James Craig, left, speaks to the media about two officers who were shot Wednesday evening while responding to a home invasion on Detroit's west side. (Photo/AP)

Detroit Police Officer Rasheen McClain was killed, and his partner Officer Phillippe Batoum-Bisse injured, while responding to a call about a break-in at a house on Wyoming Avenue near Eight Mile Road on the city's west side on Wednesday. Police have not identified the suspect, who was also shot during the incident, but have said the 28-year-old was a parolee with a lengthy criminal history.

Craig revealed Friday that the man may also be connected with three other recent shootings: The non-fatal shootings of two men near Seven Mile and Wyoming on Sunday on the city's west side; the fatal shooting of one man and non-fatal shooting of another on the city's east side on Monday, and an earlier incident two weeks ago at the same house where McClain was killed.

The investigation into the incident two weeks ago has come under scrutiny.

If there had been an "appropriate" follow up, Craig said, the man could have been taken into custody and "we wouldn't be talking about our hero who is no longer with us."

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said today a warrant request has not yet been received in connection with the killing of McClain. But prosecutors have received a warrant request for the 28-year-old in connection with Monday's east-side shooting that killed a 31-year-old man and wounded another man on Knodell Street.

"The warrant request is currently being reviewed and a charging decision is not expected today," according to a statement from the prosecutor's office.The Free Press generally does not identify suspects until they've been charged. 

Craig said some of the shooting incidents are related to the man's relationship with a 16-year-old.

He said the man came to the house on Wyoming near Eight Mile two weeks ago looking for the teen, but was turned away by someone at the home. Craig said the man left, came back and shot up the house. No one was injured.

Craig questioned the thoroughness of that shooting investigation. He said if the police "had identified him in a drive-by shooting, we could have revoked his parole then and sought an additional warrant for shooting into an inhabited dwelling."

Craig said there was an attempt to contact the person in the house and a letter was sent, but he said it appears the follow up was "lackluster" and not sufficient for such a serious crime.

Now internal affairs is investigating.

McClain and Batoum-Bisse were responding to a call Wednesday night at the home on Wyoming near Eight Mile, where police have said the suspect came looking for his girlfriend.

Craig said McClain's body camera footage shows he had a conversation with an occupant at the house about the fact that there had been a shooting there about two weeks prior.

Police have said McClain called for backup and, when two other officers arrived, the four of them went into the home, where the suspect had turned off lights everywhere but the basement. Officers cleared the home, but as they descended the stairs into the basement, the man shot Batoum-Bisse in the left ankle and McClain in the neck, police said.

Craig described the man as "a very dangerous person," who appeared to have had tactical training and believes "he was intent on dying by the hands of police."

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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