A Detroit Police Department vehicle appears to plow into protesters at a “Your Fight is My Fight!” march on Sunday night, a video obtained by CNN shows.
The video, filmed by protester Ethan Ketner, shows a DPD SUV drive through a crowd of protesters after some climbed onto the hood of the vehicle. After a few seconds, the car speeds up, knocking some protesters back and flinging others onto the hood.
Two dashcam videos – posted on the department’s Twitter – show what happened from the officers’ point of view. One video was taken from the vantage point of the DPD SUV accused of running protestors over when the vehicle became surrounded. The video shows protesters surrounding the car and one person sits on top of the car, signs then cover the dash board before the vehicle speeds off through the crowd.
The second dashcam video was taken from another police vehicle nearby and it partially captures the DPD vehicle in question being surrounded by protestors and then speeding away.
At least one protester appears to be left on the hood, hanging on to the vehicle as it speeds away, and is later thrown from it as the car drives off.
John Roach, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s media director, declined to comment and referred all communication on this incident to the police department.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig addressed the incident in a Monday news conference, noting that investigators were “not even 24 hours” into the investigation. Preliminarily, though, he defended the officers’ actions in leaving the scene once they drove out of the crowd.
“The officers did the right thing,” he said. “They certainly left the location and then after they left to avoid any further harm, the protesters then left without any further incident.”
The video shows the police vehicle’s rear window intact at around the 14-second mark, but 30 seconds later, it appears to have a large hole in it. Craig said that, at this point, video analysis does not show what broke the rear window, but that there were reports it was broken by a skateboard. He said the protest to defund the police was peaceful until demonstrators surrounded the car.
“We knew then that we needed to not put ourselves in a position where a group of criminals would surround and attack the car,” he said. “In this instance, they anticipated – they were just blocking the road to redirect, but they didn’t think they were going to get the reaction that they got.”
Craig added that the two officers in the car told investigators they believed they were possibly being shot at, which prompted them to flee the scene. No officers – whether in the car or otherwise patrolling the protests – were injured, he said.
Ketner said the protests had been peaceful until four cars blocked the protesters’ route, prompting them to surround the vehicles until officers cleared the way.
“Right as we passed all four, the driver turned and started advancing toward us,” Ketner told CNN Monday. “I can’t explain how or why he thought it was a good idea, but that’s what he decided to do. There were other vehicles farther down on Verner (Highway) and if they tried to claim they did it (to) get past us, they could have dispatched another officer (down the road).”
Ketner said police did not instruct the protesters to move out of the way before the vehicle accelerated into the crowd.
“Following this, we had our medic team - volunteers from hospitals throughout the state that come out - they took in all the injured people, examined them, got them patched up and from that point, everyone who wasn’t injured was able to march for another hour, hour and a half back to the park,” he said.