DETROIT - Police officers from adjoining Detroit precincts argued with each other, shoved and even threw punches Thursday night during a raid on a suspected drug house, leaving two cops injured, an investigation under way and a black eye on the department.
“This is probably one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in this department,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said during a news conference Monday afternoon at police headquarters.
Two officers accused of exchanging punches as the incident unfolded in the 19300 block of Andover, near East 7 Mile and I-75, have been placed on restrictive duty and a supervisor was reassigned from special operations pending the outcome of the investigation, Craig said.
Poor communication led officers from the 11th and 12th Precincts to be in the same area, at the same time, without proper notification, Craig said.
Officers from the 11th Precinct planned to raid a suspected drug house in the area they are responsible for covering. As they approached it about 6 p.m., the officers confronted two people several doors away, apparently not realizing they were undercover cops from the 12th Precinct, Craig said.
The officers from the 11th Precinct ordered the undercover officers to the ground and at some point an officer pointed at shotgun at the pair. Shortly after, the 11th Precinct officers continued to execute the search warrant.
“This is when it started to go terribly wrong,” Craig said.
Officers from the 12th Precinct, who were working a drug investigation and had a team in the area, approached the 11th Precinct officers as they conducted the raid.
Video from the scene captured arguing and shoving among some of the two dozen officers there, Craig said. The video has not been released but is being reviewed as part of the investigation that will be turned over to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether charges will be filed.
“At one point during this situation, one officer grabbed another,” Craig said, adding one was put in a headlock and a punch flew. Then an officer punched back.
One officer sustained an injury to his lip and the other officer has an injury to his eye. The officers, one from each precinct, were treated for their injuries and have been put on restrictive duty, officials said. Craig said assault and battery charges could come from the incident.
A third person, a supervisor from the 12th Precinct, has been reassigned as the investigation continues.
“It appears that this supervisor did not have control of the situation,” Craig said. “And had a tendency to get the officers from the 12th Precinct excited to the point we have this very embarrassing situation.”
Craig said somebody from the 12th Precinct should have let the 11th Precinct know their offices planned to be in the area, but that didn’t happen.
Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, said there were “crossed wires with communications.”
“When you have both sides of this matter, both doing their jobs to control the scene, you can imagine the chaos,” he said in a text message. “They fortunately got control of the scene together and a potentially dangerous situation didn’t turn out as bad as it could have.”
Craig said officers could have been shot during the incident that took place near the border of the adjoining precincts. He pointed to a 1986 incident in which two Detroit cops were killed leading to new protocols in the department.
“I am thankful that no one was more seriously injured,” Craig said of last Thursday's altercation.
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