Serious questions raised about Detroit police chase that ended in deaths of 2 children

Siblings Michaelangelo Jackson, 6, and Makiah Jackson, 3, were killed.
Siblings Michaelangelo Jackson, 6, and Makiah Jackson, 3, were killed.

A high-speed police chase that ended in the deaths of two children last week would never have happened if Detroit cops obeyed three commands by a supervisor to stop the pursuit in the busy neighborhood, city leaders are acknowledging.

More troubling questions have surfaced: Did police even have a reason to pull over the Chevy Camero and did they push the fleeing car into the children? Officers said they pursued the car because they saw a gun. But no weapon was found after the speeding Camero plunged into a group of children playing outside their homes at Nottingham and Frankfurt.

Some witnesses said the police car slammed into the Camero, causing it to lose control and hit the children. But officers said they were about a block away when the siblings, Makiah Jackson, 3, and Michaelangelo Jackson, 6, were hit and killed, and three of their friends, ages 3, 5 and 7, were injured.

Police said the squad car did not have a working dash cam.

Lorenzo Harris was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Lorenzo Harris was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

The driver, Lorenzo Harris, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

The officers, who are under an internal investigation, appeared to violate the city’s policy on high-speed pursuits, which “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.”

 

The handling of the chase has drawn widespread criticism and calls for action against the three special-operations officers who were in the squad car.

“It’s clear that police are responsible for these senseless killings and should be held accountable to the greatest extent of the law,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, an advocacy group for racial equality. “There was no need to drive down a residential street where children are playing at such dangerous speeds.”

Robinson and others want an outside investigation because of Detroit’s history of covering up for its own officers.

“Independent oversight and officer discipline are critical for transforming a culture of policing that favors secrecy, violence and impunity over transparency and public accountability,” Robinson said. “These families deserve a fair and impartial investigation into the inhumane killing of their children and aggressive policing practices that disproportionately harm black families.”

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.

  • Nick Nightmare

    How do you see a gun in another car, from inside of a car? Unless it was on the dashboard, this is impossible. It sounds like they charged the wrong guy for the deaths of these children. If they were instructed not to pursue, and honestly, what person would think that it was a good idea to pursue a speeding car on a heavily populated residential street? I hope they wind up dropping the charges against this guy, and put the people who are really responsible for these deaths in jail.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    ““There was no need to drive down a residential street where children are playing at such dangerous speeds.”

    Rashaid Robinson, have you ever tried to get a car up to say 60-65 on a residential block or similar distance, its not easy, also these cops might be blowing stop signs in the chase, I am not even sure.

    The camaro could have been going at speeds close to 80 mph, you cannot spot a kid on a lawn while you are chasing a guy, going 60 mph or more, looking for stuff he is ditching out of the window, etc.

    Where were the parents, like I said, a fast car on good tires, on a nice track, set up for racing runs 12 second 1/4 mile.

    If the parent was on the porch outside with the kids, they had atleast 12 seconds, probably much longer hearing sirens etc on other streets to yell at the kids to get in the house or side yard etc.

    Now the problem with that is people drive like the duke boys in detroit all the time, same with sirens, you start to dismiss them. That does not make it the cops fault though.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    “There was no need to drive down a residential street where children are playing at such dangerous speeds.”

    The good thing about a car ripping it down a side street is it sounds crazy with a car revved to the limit, loud exhaust, tires chirping, not to mention the police sirens.

    You probably have quite a bit of time to get out of the street, if your street is a 1/4 mile long a fast car set up for drag racing is 11 or 12 seconds.

    The need comes from letting people go, you end up with more than 2 random deaths every 3 years.

    The same dude you let go can by himself steal tons of cars, set tons of fires, shoot a bunch of rival gang members, strip a number of buildings every couple weeks.

    Bath tubs and step ladders kill and cripple tons of people, but no one advocated for their removal, this is just emotional.

  • Shai_Hulud

    It’s “Camaro.”

  • Michelangelo has the same thoughtful look about him as my 5 year old nephew, and beautiful Makiah sparkles like my 3 year old niece. Knowing that this family lost their own Max and Clara makes me want to vomit – it’s just an unthinkable loss.

    The number one priority of the police needs to be at all times to protect the population they serve. That’s why we hired them. There is no other point in employing them. Engaging in activities – no matter how provoked or justified they feel – that endanger the public runs directly counter to their reason for existing at all. I feel like we’ve lost sight of that.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      That sounds nice, but whats the answer. It is about as well thought out as some celeb saying end war.

      Great, how do you do that, your unwillingness to fight empowers those willing to fight.

      Your unwillingness to chase empowers the criminal.
      It also is an injustice to the victim of a crime, that the cops WILL NOT chase him.

      Explain the answer in detail, with no apparent bad outcomes ever, as it sounds like thats what you expect ?

      • It’s actually part of the policoes and procedures for police in Detroit.

        “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.”

        http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/dpd-vehicle-pursuit-policy.pdf

        Yes, sometimes it empowers a criminal to choose not to endanger the public by refusing to pursue, and sometimes the safety of children outweighs a victim’s wish for justice. That’s the way the grown-up world works. I’m having trouble understanding why you need this explained to you.

  • maggiemay

    Actually, a bystander at the crash scene did see a gun. I’m sure that was picked up pretty fast. Also, the driver was a parole absconder, the car was stolen and after hitting the first group of children he kept going and hit another group a hundred feet away. Let’s put the blame where it belongs, it’s not an issue of color. When a cop wants to pull you over, pull over.

  • bebow

    I’ve been reading many comments that support what the police did in this case. They’re disgusting.

  • Gregory Watson

    The story fails to make clear as to whether the police officers in question were Black themselves or White, but it seems to allude to racial bias.

    • Amber Greene

      That’s irrelevant, the police are an institution that operates with a racial bias regardless of the ethnicity of the offending officers.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        with or with out bias? You said with bias, but its irrelevant ?

        • The race of the individual officers is irrelevant when considering the bias of the institution as a whole.