By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Protestors rallied outside the Police Department Feb. 27 for justice in the two incidents where Detroit residents were shot and killed by Dearborn police officers.
The rally included friends and families of the two victims — Kevin Matthews and Janet Wilson — where they asked the city and police department for answers on the killings.
Activist the Rev. Malik Shabazz led the protest asking those who hold leadership roles for their help.
“We want justice against every officer, against every negligence and against everything that’s committed against these families,” he said. “Officers have no right to kill innocent people just because they hold a badge.”
The incidents involving Matthews, 36, and Wilson, 31, occurred just over a month apart in December and January.
Matthews was shot multiple times by a Dearborn police officer in Detroit after a foot chase and struggle on Dec. 23. Dearborn police said the Matthews attempted to reach for the officer’s gun during the struggle before he was shot.
He was wanted on a Redford Township probation violation warrant and had escaped from officers earlier that same day after committing a larceny in Dearborn.
Matthews was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy conducted by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Matthews’ death a homicide.
Almost a month later, Wilson was also shot multiple times near The Henry Hotel after she drove away from Fairlane Town Center on Jan. 27.
As police attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Hubbard Drive near the Southfield Service Drive, the woman reportedly tried to run over the officer when he got out of his vehicle.
The officer drew his weapon and fired multiple shots. Wilson was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Wilson’s sister, Lori Wilson, was in attendance at the protest in tears and asked for answers and evidence on the incident.
“She was unarmed, she was distraught, her crime was being distraught,” Wilson said. “My sister did not deserve to lose her life over a small incident.”
The Dearborn Police Department released a statement Jan. 28 addressing both fatal shootings.
“The Dearborn Police Department is deeply saddened by the two officer involved fatal shooting incidents that have occurred over the past month,” the release read. “Both of the officer involved shooting incidents are being independently criminally investigated by outside agencies and we are totally committed to transparency and disclosure by fully cooperating with these investigations.
“Upon conclusion of the criminal investigations we will be conducting internal reviews on both of these incidents. While we are very proud of our long history of civil rights advocacy as well as our history of appropriate use of force, we will closely examine all of our policies and procedures to ensure that we are employing the latest training and following national best practices in all of our responsibilities to the community.
“Once we are allowed and it is appropriate to do so, we fully intend to make public disclosures regarding these incidents. We remain committed to providing superior public safety services and appreciate the support during this most difficult time for our entire community.”
The names or identifications of police officers involved in both incidents still have not been released as investigations are ongoing.
The Detroit Police Department is completing the Matthews investigation and Michigan State Police is handling the Wilson investigation.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)