A couple of items on Detroit caught my eye in the last couple week.
The first is a piece discussing a SWAT team killing of girl in Detroit. The police are searching for a man, Owens, who committed a murder. They enter the wrong apartment and kill a girl. Here is the description of the original crime:
It was 2:40 in the afternoon on May 14 when Je’Rean went to the Motor City liquor store and ice-cream stand to get himself an orange juice to wash down his McDonald’s. About 40 kids were milling around in front of the soft-serve window. That’s when Owens, 34, pulled up on a moped.
Je’Rean might have thought it was funny to see a grown man driving a moped. He might have smirked. But according to a witness, he said nothing.
"Why you looking at me?" said Owens, getting off the moped. "Do you got a problem or something? What the fuck you looking at?"
A slender, pimply faced kid, Je’Rean was not an intimidating figure. One witness had him pegged for 13 years old.
Je’Rean balled up his tiny fist. "What?" he croaked.
"Oh, stay your ass right here," Owens growled. "I got something for you."
Owens sped two blocks back to Lillibridge and gathered up a posse, according to his statement to the police. The posse allegedly included Aiyana’s [the girl who was later killed by the SWAT team] father, Charles "C.J." Jones.
"It’s some lil niggas at the store talking shit—let’s go whip they ass," Detective Theopolis Williams later testified that Owens told him during his interrogation.
Owens switched his moped for a Chevy Blazer. Jones and two other men known as "Lil’ James" and "Dirt" rode along for Je’Rean’s ass-whipping. Lil’ James brought along a .357 Magnum—at the behest of Jones, Detective Williams testified, because Jones was afraid someone would try to steal his "diamond Cartier glasses."
Je’Rean knew badness was on its way and called his mother to come pick him up. She arrived too late. Owens got there first and shot Je’Rean clear through the chest with Lil’ James’ gun. Clutching his juice in one hand and two dollars in the other, Je’Rean staggered across Mack Avenue and collapsed in the street. A minute later, a friend took the two dollars as a keepsake. A few minutes after that, Je’Rean’s mother, Lyvonne Cargill, arrived and got behind the wheel of the car that friends had dragged him into.
Why would anyone move a gunshot victim, much less toss him in a car? It is a matter of conditioning, Cargill later told me. In Detroit, the official response time of an ambulance to a 911 call is 12 minutes. Paramedics say it is routinely much longer. Sometimes they come in a Crown Victoria with only a defibrillator and a blanket, because there are no other units available. The hospital was six miles away. Je’Rean’s mother drove as he gurgled in the backseat.
"My baby, my baby, my baby. God, don’t take my baby."
They made it to the trauma ward, where Je’Rean was pronounced dead.
The rest of the back story is even more sickening. A few days before the SWAT raid, a police officer was killed by a guy who should have been in jail by any standard of justice. The chaos is hard to fathom. The whole article is worth reading. You’ll learn interesting things like:
To avoid the embarrassment of being the nation’s perpetual murder capital, the police department took to cooking the homicide statistics, reclassifying murders as other crimes or incidents. For instance, in 2008 a man was shot in the head. ME Schmidt ruled it a homicide; the police decided it was a suicide. That year, the police said there were 306 homicides—until I began digging. The number was actually 375. I also found that the police and judicial systems were so broken that in more than 70 percent of murders, the killer got away with it.
One man, who wanted to turn himself in for a murder, gave up trying to call the Detroit police; he drove to Ohio and turned himself in there.
Beyond just this event, the article covers the overall decline of Detroit. To the author’s credit, he actually tries to figure out what killed Detroit – he has no idea, but at least he tries to answer the question. The statistics about the decline of the city are as shocking as the crimes.
Of course, now that the SWAT team killed a little girl, the police will learn the appropriate lesson – don’t bother trying to arrest killers like Owens. After all, what kind of idiot would try to arrest such a person without backing from a SWAT team (or an army)?
Expect Detroit to get worse. The interesting question is whether the rest of the country will follow the same path.
The second item was this series of pictures.