The Detroit Police Department has launched an investigation after one of its police cruisers was caught on camera plowing through a crowd of protesters that surrounded the vehicle, sending demonstrators flying off the vehicle's hood. The shocking incident took place on Sunday during a rally in the area against police brutality.
Video footage of the incident, shared on Twitter by Ethan Ketner, shows a protest group surrounding a Detroit police SUV before it speeds through the mob. The clip starts off with protesters chanting slogans of "No justice, no peace," in front of the vehicle. One of the demonstrators leans on the hood of the SUV before others move in.
The police cruiser then inches forward before the driver accelerates rapidly, hitting multiple people, sending some of those on the hood tumbling to the ground as the vehicle sped off as onlookers screamed in horror. The video ends with the protesters running after the vehicle.
Multiple Demonstrators Injured
"He went super fast. Me and a couple of other organizers that were with me, just went flinging off. We went flying off," Jae Bass, a 24-year-old who claimed to be one of the men seen thrown to the ground in the video.
"He ran over a couple people's arms, feet," Bass added. "I think I was the last person on the car. I was just holding onto the car. I could feel him speeding up and then... he flinged (sic) me off the car."
Ketner captioned the video clip saying that it was "a clear act of aggression" and that multiple people were injured in the incident and rushed to the hospital for treatment. Protesters claim the police vehicle tried to block them from returning to Patton Park, where a rally had been held earlier in the day.
Police Chief Claims Officers Acted Appropriately
According to Police Chief James Craig, the police officers were trying to redirect the marching protesters along a faster route to Patton Park. However, the situation escalated after one of the protesters smashed the cruiser's rear window.
"There is this loud crash or bang to the rear of the police car. And again in their mind, as according to our investigation, they believed they could be shot at, or were being fired upon and because of that they had to take quick, evasive action," Craig told reporters Monday. "When you talk about training, if you run into an ambush situation, the proper course is to get out for your safety and that is exactly what these officers opted to do."
"We don't know what broke the window – could have been a skateboard, could have been anything," he added. "But whatever it was, it certainly created enough concern for the officers and their safety and to get out."