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Woman suffering mental health crisis fatally shot by Detroit police

detroit police car
Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

A woman who allegedly assaulted her young son and mother was fatally shot inside a Detroit home as she struggled with an officer over a gun, the city's police chief said Friday.

Chief James White told reporters the woman appears to have been suffering a mental health crisis and was in the westside home with two young children Thursday night when officers rushed in.

An officer was heard yelling, “'Don't grab that gun, don't grab that gun. Gun, gun, gun,'” White said. “Then there's a struggle and then you hear the shots go off.”

Police recovered a gun, but White said the woman didn't fire any shots. As she struggled with one officer, four shots were fired by three other officers.

She later died. Her name and age were not immediately released.

The woman's mother called 911 twice about 6:20 p.m. Thursday and said her daughter struck her grandson, was armed with a knife and a bat and had access to a gun, White said.

“She further reported that she had been struck in the head by her daughter and that she might have to kill her own daughter," he added.

She also said her daughter suffered from schizophrenia.

The mother and her own mother were able to flee the home, but her daughter and the two children, ages 7 and 1, still were inside. At some point her daughter, dressed only in underwear, came outside with a gun before retreating back inside the home, White said.

Officers arrived and surrounded the home as a crisis intervention officer began negotiating with the woman inside, inquiring about the children. Officers rushed in when the woman opened the door.

White said the situation was “less about her mental condition" and “more about the children and their safety.”

Investigators were looking to understand “what drove the officers' decision to go in, if it's within our policy and if the fatal force policy was applied," he said, adding that the officers' body camera footage was being reviewed.

The fatal shooting was the second by Detroit police in just over a month involving a person apparently suffering from mental illness.

Porter Burks, a Black man, was slain Oct. 2 as he sprinted — armed with a knife — toward officers. Burks brother had earlier called police, who said Burks suffered from schizophrenia.

Burks’ death was recorded by police body cameras as officers pleaded with him to drop a knife he was carrying.

An attorney representing Burks family filed a $50 million lawsuit earlier this month against the city.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims gross negligence and assault and battery by officers, among other things.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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