Did Detroit police miss opportunity to prevent apartment arson that injured 4?

The audio above is communication between the dispatch office and the police and fire departments.  

Detroit police made a fateful decision early Wednesday morning to leave an apartment building without first talking to four people accused of raping a 19-year-old woman during a rowdy party hours earlier.

Dispatch records show police were called to Jason Manor Apartments at 3:02 a.m. to investigate a rape. The first of two squad cars arrived at 3:30 a.m.

Searching for bodies/Michael A. Brouwer
Searching for bodies/Michael A. Brouwer

Police decided to leave at 5:12 a.m. after interviewing witnesses.

“There’s no answer at the door,” an officer told a dispatcher before leaving.

Less than 45 minutes earlier, officers were called back to the scene, where flames were quickly consuming the three-story building.

“There are people trapped in the building,” one of the officers told dispatchers. “People are jumping out of the window.”

Today, two of the rape suspects were taken into custody, and they are being questioned about the fire.

Deputy Chief Rodney Johnson told us today that detectives were sent to the apartment building after the officers left but were “unable to conduct anymore interviews at the scene because the apartment complex was engulfed in flames.”

“Detectives went to the hospital to interview the victim and witnesses,” Johnson said. “The investigation continues. The detectives have a vague description of a suspect and subsequently are actively pursuing all leads received from the victim and witnesses who were interviewed at the scene and at the hospital.”

Officials continued to search for bodies in the charred rubble today. Accelerants were found at the scene. 

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Kelley Girlw

    I think, the point is that due to cuts and a lack of cooperation from residents, incidents like this are allowed to happen. Not by officer choice, it’s just that they cannot spend hours on one location when they aren’t getting cooperation or information.

  • Sizz

    DPD only acts like they know what they’re doing when there are news cameras around or when Charlie LeDuff is on a ride-along. Rape investigations require hard work and who wants to bother with a dangerous apartment building so late at night? Where is Michael Woody to spin this one?

  • pat odoyle

    Steve the cops and fire dept cannot prevent crime or arson. That is a very silly premise. That is little kid action movie stuff. The cops cannot prevent murder, or kidnapping, or petty theft, or car jacking.

    They honestly can barely investigate, or solve those things. Usually they take reports, and wait for something to fall in their laps. Like a snitch turns on someone, or they catch someone else doing something and part of the plea is getting someone else to inform on the party who car jacked, mugged etc.

    I want to ad, they couldn’t send enough cops to that complex, there was allot of units, and even more rooms. You would have to have a cop in each room with a fire extinguisher to prevent a fire.

    Then the moment they leave, the would be firestarter torches the joint.

    • bebow

      So, you’re saying the police are incapable of doing anything. Why do we employ them if that’s the case? The prompt arrest of gang rapists, who were hiding from police on the other side of a cheap door, would have prevented the arson. If a downtown or Midtown female were gang raped, the door would be kicked off its hinges instantly. This is getting old.

      • pat odoyle

        Nope. I said prevent. That is a proactive word. It means stop something before it starts.

        Simple question bebo, how does a cop know where to be, before something happens?

        Can you do that?

        If you can you might be a super hero and you should start calling the cops with your visions and let them know this stuff is going down before it happens. Even then by law they would still have to wait for it to happen. Thought crimes are not crimes yet. So yeah, its impossible to prevent a crime.

        If your visions come with a cape, you can probably swoop down and prevent crime and i bet they will not prosecute you if you are really an actual superhero.

        We employ them to mostly walk around and be seen and by presence mostly keep order. Then when things happen we mostly pay them to take a report, then file it away and mostly do nothing about it again.

        Sorry that is reality.

        Maybe you know more details then i do, but did the cops have a warrant ? If they do not see a crime and pursue someone, they can’t just go kicking down doors with out a warrant. If you flee and they see you, and you run and close a door behind you they can bust it down.

        You could not be less informed so i will assume you know nothing about the details of this case.