Chief questions why Detroit police officer shot on west side wasn't taken to closest hospital

Detroit police officer in 'extremely grave condition,' chief says

DETROIT – Detroit police Chief James Craig is questioning a critical decision made by paramedics after a Detroit officer was shot Sunday on the city's west side.

The 14-year veteran of the police force was shot in the head while responding to a domestic violence call in west Detroit. Craig said the officer is in "extremely grave condition."

Craig questions why the officer was taken by paramedics to Beaumont Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn. Sinai-Grace Hospital and Henry Ford Hospital are both closer to the shooting scene, and Henry Ford Hospital has a level one trauma center.

"When I met with the officer's wife, without saying another word, the first greeting was, 'Why is my husband here?'" Craig said.

Two days after the incident, Craig is still asking why the officer wasn't taken to a closer hospital.

Why did the ambulance crew, which was on the scene within one minute of the shooting, take the fallen officer to a hospital about seven miles away? Rapid Response ambulance company CEO Tommy Widmer said his crew had a very good reason.

"The direction and the roads were best for that time due to being able to get there faster," Widmer said. "The crew was thinking time, not necessarily distance."

Widmer added that his crew felt it wasn't a direct shot to Henry Ford Hospital, which has a trauma center that specializes in neurosurgery. He said the trip had too many stops and turns in consideration of the officer's condition.

He also said Detroit police gave his ambulance a sizeable police escort and offered no specific guidance on which hospital to go to.

Craig said he was troubled by another issue.

"A police officer shot in the city of Detroit, they need to go to a one type of trauma center, No. 1, and that's what I expect, and it's what I'm going to demand," Craig said.

The Detroit Fire Department contracts Rapid Response crews, and the fire commissioner is doing an investigation into the way the injured officer's care was handled. Calls to the fire commissioner have not yet been returned.

You can watch the full interview with Chief James Craig below.

Shooter identified as James Edward Ray

The man suspected of shooting a Detroit police officer Sunday night on the city's west side was identified as James Edward Ray, police announced Monday.

Police said Ray was shot and killed Sunday after allegedly shooting an officer in the head with a .380 nickel-plated pistol. The officer was responding to a 911 call about a domestic situation around 11:45 p.m. Sunday in the 10000 block of Joy Road near Wyoming Avenue.

According to Detroit police Chief James Craig, the caller said they would leave the door to the apartment building propped open, but officers instead were locked out of the building. Craig said they repeatedly kicked and pounded on the door to get tenants' attention.

RELATED: 7 police officers shot in Detroit over 8-month period

A resident of the building, not involved with the domestic situation, opened the door and began firing. A 14-year veteran of the force was shot in the head with a .380 nickel-plated pistol.

EMS was already in route for the domestic situation.

The junior officer at the scene fired several rounds from a covered position and the suspect was shot and killed.

"This is a sobering reminder of the dangers that our officers face every day," Craig said.

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Officer's condition 'deteriorating'

Craig held a news conference Monday morning to provide updates on the officer's condition. Craig was joined by Mayor Mike Duggan and Dr. James Wagner.

Wagner said the officer was severely injured and that his condition had "deteriorated" overnight. The officer was shot once in the back of the head.

He said the officer would need another surgery.

"We’re going to do everything we can to save his life," Wagner said.

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About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.