Major questions are arising after Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced that two huge pieces of evidence in the police chase which left two children dead and three more injured on June 24 are nonexistent – specifically, a suspect’s gun and cop’s dashcam footage.
A police chase which reached 70 miles-per-hour through a residential neighborhood left Michael A. Jackson, 6, and Makiah Jackson, 3, dead, and injured a 23-year-old woman and three other children aged 3, 5 and 7 after the car police were chasing went off the road and crashed into the porch of someone’s home.
Witnesses claimed the police car bumped the vehicle they were chasing, causing the car to lose control and hit the children who were out playing in their front yard.
“[The police] were right on their rear, the police car bumped their tail a little bit, and the car flew up in the air,” a friend of the family told Voice of Detroit. “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.”
Police claimed that Lorenzo Harris, 29, the driver of the Chevrolet Camero, appeared to have a gun – which is what prompted the chase.
Following the incident, the police chief also told media that a witness at the scene had seen Harris with a weapon.
Problem is, they never found it.
A supervisor had also tried to radio the cruiser to tell them to call off the chase three times before the fatal crash. The chase lasted a total of 75 seconds.
“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.” The Detroit Police policy for vehicle chases states.
To make the situation even more problematic, Police Chief Craig has stated that the police vehicle his officers were driving had an inoperable dashcam.
Harris was arrested at the scene after attempting to flee. His passenger Frazier Reese, who was injured in the crash, has not been charged with any crime.
The driver, Harris, has quite a history with law enforcement, with a 2006 possession of methamphetamine charge, as well as felony convictions of receiving a stolen vehicle, firearms violations and resisting or obstructing a police officer.
Harris has now been charged with 16 crimes, including two counts of second-degree murder. If convicted on those charges, he could face a life sentence.
Activists and community members are now calling for an external investigation of the crash.
“Is this just a narrative as an excuse for a chase, because when the department was put under two federal consent judgments, one scathing criticism was that the narrative was the same all the time,” ex-Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee publicly stated on a local program called “Let it Rip” last week. “Saw a gun, started to chase, and then you don’t find a gun.”
Visitation at the funeral home took place from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, and a GoFundMe to help the children’s family was over $19,500 by Thursday evening.