Chief Craig frustrated with decision to release man arrested in graffiti threat against police

Craig says it appears prosecutor doesn't trust Detroit police

DETROIT – A man who was arrested Friday in connection with spray-painting graffiti threats against police and Detroit police Chief James Craig was released Sunday. On Monday, the police chief talked about the decision to release the suspect and said officers will have to re-arrest him.

"There’s only one thing to say," Craig said of those who make such threats. "Not one of them would do the job that our men and women in blue would do. We run toward gunfire. They run away. They’re cowards. They hide behind the basements of their parents’ home in some instances. In this case, the person probably came out at dark and did this."

The message in the latest incident was written in black and white paint on the wall of a building in Detroit. It read:

"Kill all police. Kill James Craig."

"Certainly this was not vague," Craig said. "It was clear as to the intent of the suspect."

A man was arrested in his home at about 9 p.m. Friday. Craig said he learned that the man was released from custody Sunday. He said he called Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and told her what he knew about the case.

He said a decision was made Monday afternoon to sign a warrant to arrest the man again.

"I have been very clear that today we are in an environment of not only anti-police rhetoric, but we are in an environment where police officers are being shot and shot at," Craig said.

Craig said it was "substandard" work by the prosecutor in this case.

"Clearly, the prosecutor missed it, in my judgment," Craig said. "She missed it because this was a probable cause determination, not a certainty or prosecution."

Craig said he's specifically talking about the decision to released the suspect in this particular instance. He said it's unrealistic for police to be required to obtain forensic evidence in the case in just 48 hours.

Craig said when he called the prosecutor Sunday night, he let her know that he's intimate with the case. He said the prosecutor did not disagree with him.

"If a prosecutor believes that evidence that the detective says they have and you don't believe they have the evidence, that's a problem for me," Craig said. "Hold me accountable for the work of our investigators."

Craig said if one of his investigators fails to do what they said they did, that's a neglect of duty and they'll open an investigation. He said police didn't bring in new evidence.

Craig said this is the same person who was arrested and released from custody previously. He said by law, they were required to release him from custody. Now, they have to arrest him again.

"We're asking the suspect, just turn yourself in," Craig said. "We certainly don't want to force entry, but you are to turn yourself in."

The man said he was very upset about the way he was arrested in another instance. He said his home was "fire bombed" and his dog was killed.

Craig said officials did deploy a distraction device in the arrest and he was told the dog approached officers in an aggressive manner so the decision was made to put the dog down.

"Any other issues concerning the arrest, certainly, we are opening an investigation, not because he's initiated the conversation, however, based on the news report," Craig said. "We're willing to look at all of those issues."

Craig said the man will be interviewed when he comes into custody about any complaints he has about the arrest.

He said he believes the force was necessary "given what we knew and without going into details about the suspect, certainly there was a reason why the special response team executed the warrant. There was a reason why the distraction device was used. Certainly it was our judgment that we were dealing with a threat, so we responded accordingly."

Craig said officers don't want to have to put down an animal, but that in this case, they didn't feel they had a choice.

"When we arrested the suspect, we arrested the right person," Craig said. "And now we're going out to re-arrest him."

Craig said there was additional evidence recovered from the scene, but he can't reveal it due to the ongoing investigation.

According to Craig, there appears to be an issue of trust involved in decision to release the suspect.

"If we've acquired Item A and we say that we have Item A in our custody and you want to see Item A, or you want to have a photograph of Item A, that doesn't satisfy a probable cause determination," Craig said.

You can watch Craig's full news conference in the video posted above.

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