Detroit police chief defends officers involved in clash with protesters

Chief James Craig says officers were concerned for their safety, saying protesters 'attacked' police vehicles Sunday

DETROIT – Detroit Police Chief James Craig says major cities have looked up to Detroit for its lack of looting and damage amid ongoing protests.

That is -- until Sunday night, when protesters were pushed by a Detroit police vehicle during a demonstration Downtown.

“He thought maybe he was being fired upon,” Craig said of an officer involved in the incident.

In an online discussion on race relations with several other city and state leaders, hosted by The Information Center, Craig insisted the actions of the officers were in response to protesters threatening them.

“Our police cars were attacked; there was an effort to gain entry into at least one of them,” Chief Craig said. “There was damage. Clearly the officers had a concern for their safety.”

MORE: Detroit police chief: Officers who pushed through crowd in SUV feared for their safety

The police chief is standing by his officers, who will remain on duty throughout the investigation into the incident. Craig says it is still early in the investigation and they are going through “a lot” of footage, but he hopes the officers involved won’t be lumped into the same category as the problem.

“Let’s not paint our profession in one way,” Craig said. “The vast majority of men and women who wear the badge, don the uniform, they do so because they want to make a difference.”

Protesters have since called for the two Detroit police officers to be fired and face charges following Sunday’s incident. One witness said several people had to be hospitalized from the collision.

Monday was the city’s 32nd day of protests amid national unrest over racism and police brutality.

Read more about Detroit protests here.

About the Authors: