Detroit police shot and killed a woman experiencing a mental health crisis who was accused of assaulting her child and her mother in a west side home Thursday evening.
The woman and a Detroit police officer were engaged in a struggle over a gun when three other officers fired four rounds at her inside the home in the 15700 block of Meyers Road, Detroit Police Chief James White said during a Friday morning news conference.
The woman did not fire the gun, he said.
"(What) we'll all be looking to understand and looking to unpack with this investigation, is what brought the officers decision to go in, if it's within our policy, if the fatal force policy" applies, White said.
"And there will be strict accountability if the policy were violated."
Police did not release the names of the people involved.
It was the woman's mother and grandmother who had called the police about 6:20 p.m. Thursday, according to White. They had gone to the home to check on the woman's children, ages 7 and 1.
There, the woman's mother realized her daughter was experiencing a mental health crisis, and that the woman's 7-year-old child had been struck in the head. The mother told police her daughter suffers from schizophrenia and had been armed with a bat, knives and had access to a gun, according to White.
When the mother and grandmother tried to leave the home, the woman allegedly began punching her mother multiple times, and as they exited the home, the woman went outside on her porch in her underwear, brandishing a gun, White said.
The mother called the police twice, White said. The first time, she told police her daughter was armed, mentally ill, and had hit her and her grandson, White said. She told police she was scared she might have to "kill her own daughter," White said.
The second time the woman's mother called, she asked police to come immediately because her daughter was pointing the gun at her, White said.
Police arrived 10 minutes after the 911 calls, White said. Knowing children were inside, a crisis intervention officer attempted to negotiate with the woman and asked to see the children. The woman opened the door, revealing her children behind her, White said. When the officer tried to ask the 7-year-old directly if he was OK, the woman did not let the child answer and told the children to go up to their room, White said.
She then closed the door, White said, and became agitated as officers began to surround the house. She eventually opened the door again, and officers were able to enter the home.
White said the woman rushed toward a gun and got hold of the weapon. Then, an officer attempted to wrestle the gun away from her, and during the struggle, three other officers fired, White said.
"As she takes off running, you hear the officer yelling, 'Don't grab that gun, don't grab the gun. Gun, gun, gun.' Then there's a struggle, and then you hear the shots go off," White said at the news conference.
White said the children were upstairs in a bedroom when the struggle took place.
White initially told the public Thursday evening, while emphasizing the information at the time was preliminary, that police had designated the scene as a barricaded gunman incident. White said Thursday that they did not in fact treat the situation as such due to the fact that the woman's two children were inside the home.
"When children are at risk, decisions to protect them are our top priority," he said. "We want to be transparent with the community."
White said body camera footage is being reviewed, but it will not immediately be released to the public.
An internal investigation into the incident as well as an independent investigation by the Michigan State Police are ongoing, according to Chris Graveline, director of professional standards and constitutional policing for the Detroit Police Department. Once the Michigan State Police investigation is complete, it will be sent to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office to determine whether any criminal charges are appropriate.
The three officers who shot and killed the woman have been placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy.
The killing comes a little over a month after Detroit police shot and killed 20-year-old Porter Burks, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Burks' brother had called police, notifying them that Burks was experiencing a mental health crisis and wandering around the city's west side near their home with a 3.5-inch knife.
Burks was shot 19 times by five officers, who fired 38 rounds in 3 seconds. Burks' mother has filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit. Community members have questioned the police's crisis intervention training and have demanded the names of the officers who shot and killed Burks. White said his department will release names once the investigation is complete.
Activist Kate Stenvig of the group By Any Means Necessary expressed outrage at the latest incident of a mental health crisis ending in death.
"We don't need more crocodile tears from Chief White or anyone else when these were preventable deaths and the police policy is clearly to shoot to kill," Stenvig said Friday. "We will be marching tomorrow at 4 p.m. and invite everyone to join us.”
At 4 p.m. Saturday, Stenvig's group will gather for a march at Lyndon and Snowden streets, near the site of Burks' killing.
A separate rally organized by several social justice groups calling for improved crisis response is planned at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Adams Butzel Complex, 10500 Lyndon St. in Detroit.
According to police data, mental health calls for service have increased since 2021. Police received 18,106 mental health calls in 2021. As of Nov. 6, police received 20,007 mental health calls in 2022, according to the data. The largest number of calls were for drug overdoses, the data indicates, followed by calls of mentally ill and violent but unarmed subjects, then those who were mentally ill and nonviolent.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit woman in mental crisis killed during struggle for gun with cop