ROYAL OAK, Mich. – An officer involved fatal shooting in Royal Oak in April has been ruled justified after an investigation.
Antonio Thomas Gordon, 28, of Commerce Township was shot and killed by a Royal Oak police officer on April 10 while in line at a drive-thru restaurant.
The incident started at about 6 p.m. when a Royal Oak police officer attempted to stop a BMW on Woodward Avenue near 13 Mile Road. Investigators now say the traffic stop was initiated because Gordon was driving recklessly.
Investigators said after a short pursuit, Gordon's vehicle came to a stop as traffic backed up from Coolidge Highway. As officers approached, Gordon fled in his vehicle.
About a half an hour later, police located Gordon at the drive-thru window at a White Castle at 13 Mile Road and Coolidge.
Officer Keith Bierenga blocked the vehicle with his patrol car and approached Gordon with his service weapon drawn. Gordon then "quickly put his vehicle in reverse, smashing into the vehicle directly behind him and then accelerated forward narrowly missing the officer, who had to jump out the way," investigators said.
As Gordon was ramming his vehicle out of the blockade, officer Bierenga fired his weapon, striking Gordon. He crashed his vehicle about a half-mile away and was later pronounced dead.
Several witnesses said they saw the whole incident.
"We saw the cop pull up to White Castle, and we saw him get out and draw his gun immediately. We heard four or five gunshots," said one witness. "We could see him swerving and driving really slow, and he looked out of it. And then he just started coasting into oncoming traffic, and I assumed that he passed out."
Investigators said autopsy reports indicate Gordon's bodily alcohol content was three times the legal limit and tested positive for marijuana.
The shooting has been ruled justified due to Michigan's "Self Defense Act," which states an individual may use deadly force against another when they "honestly and reasonably believe the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death," or or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.
Michigan law allows deadly force to be used in making an arrest when the "arresting person is met with force or when deadly force is required to prevent the person being arrested from fleeing."
Gordon's wife, Nita, said this to Local 4:
"My husband was murdered. This is unjustified and a lot of the report given to me is not adding up. The department of justice will be looking at his case. I will not stop fighting for him and others who are victims of the police."