By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Protesters rallied Dec. 26 against the Dec. 23 shooting death of a Detroit man by a Dearborn police officer.
Friends and family of Kevin Matthews, 35, gathered outside the Dearborn police station, 16099 Michigan Ave., calling for justice on Matthews’ behalf.
Supports said Matthews had a broken arm from an incident during Thanksgiving and was known in the community to be a schizophrenic.
According to police reports, the police officer was patrolling the Tireman Avenue and Greenfield Road area when he observed Matthews, who was known to be wanted on a Redford Township probation violation warrant. Matthews had escaped from officers earlier in the day after committing a larceny in Dearborn.
After a foot chase and struggle between the two men, the Dearborn police officer shot Matthews near a house in the 8000 block of Whitcomb in Detroit, police said.
The police officer fired his department issued weapon, striking Matthews multiple times about 12:30 p.m.
Matthews was pronounced dead at the scene and the officer was taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries he sustained during the incident.
The Detroit Police Department responded to the location and are conducting the investigation.
The unidentified police officer is a five-year veteran of the Police Department with a clear disciplinary record. He is on administrative leave, according to a Dearborn Police Department statement released Dec. 30.
An autopsy conducted by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Matthews’ death a homicide.
The rally at the police station was held by the Change Agent Consortium and Concerned Clergy.
The Rev. David Alexander Bullock, of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church in Highland Park and spokesman for Change Agent Consortium, spoke about how the situation was handled and what could have been done differently.
“The situation with Kevin went from a misdemeanor to a homicide,” he said. “The officer could’ve resolved the issue peacefully with Kevin, it didn’t need to end with gun shots.”
Bullock also said that the aggressive manner in which police are arresting others needs to change.
“We pay for police officers with our tax dollars and throughout the country innocent people are being murdered,” he said. “Police are playing judge, jury and executioner in these incidents.”
Change Agent Consortium member Teferi Brent urged those in attendance to protest peacefully.
“All things can be solved peacefully through protest,” he said. “Incidents like these are what bring us together to prevent future murders.”
The Dearborn Police Department, in a statement, said it is fully cooperating with the Detroit Police Department as it investigates the incident.
“I am solely responsible as chief of police for establishing the objectives and crime prevention strategies that the men and women of the Dearborn Police Department are tasked with to maintain the good order of our community,” Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said in the statement. “We will continue to carry out these tasks to ensure that Dearborn remains a safe and welcoming city for our residents and visitors alike.”
Another protest by the National Action Network is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 4 in the parking lot of Kroger, 15255 Michigan Ave.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])