Kevin Matthews, a 35-year-old Black man from Detroit, Michigan, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Even so, Matthews had never committed a felony offense in his life.
On December 23, a Dearborn police officer shot Matthews multiple times, ending his life. Two days later, the coroner ruled his death a homicide.
Since the shooting, police have made every attempt to make it appear that Matthews was a hardened criminal. During an interviewwith the press, Detroit Police Chief James Craig claimed that Matthews had “a crime problem.”
During an interview with WXYZ, Police Chief Craig also called him a “chronic problem in this area.”
In case we need more proof that cops believe they have a right to act as judge, jury and executioner, police have repeatedly stated that Matthews committed larceny earlier in the day. Note that the words ‘accused of larceny’ or ‘suspected of larceny’ aren’t used in association with this officer-involved shooting. Instead, with their words, Detroit and Dearborn police make it clear that they’ve assumed the role of the courts; trying, convicting and sentencing Matthews all on their own, without the aid of a bothersome justice system.
Police have not provided any evidence that a larceny took place, or that Matthews was implicated as the suspect.
Police state that Matthews was wanted on a misdemeanor probation violation, and that the officer recognized him from the earlier larceny.
Voice of Detroit did a thorough records search and found that no such warrant exists.
The search showed that the 35-year-old man had one misdemeanor conviction in 2013, and no other convictions.
Dearborn police chief Ronald Haddad wants the public to know that he stands by the officer who shot Matthews. And in the very same sentence he said there will be a “full investigation” into the shooting.
“I stand behind the officer, and we’re going to have a full investigation with Detroit police.”
It should go without saying that an impartial investigation cannot begin with a biased premise.
Many details about what happened that day are not available. It appears that an unidentified Dearborn police officer spotted Matthews walking on the sidewalk at the border of Detroit and Dearborn. The Dearborn officer placed a call to dispatch stating that he was “approaching one on foot.”
Three minutes later the officer placed a “shots fired” call.
It is clear that the officer crossed the boundary between Detroit and Dearborn to “approach” Matthews.
They claim that Matthews fled on foot into a nearby backyard. Police also claim that a struggle ensued and that Matthews reached for the officers gun. This is why he was shot at least six times.
According to family members, Matthews was disabled. Aside from being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, a recent car accident had left one of his arms virtually unusable. Voice of Detroit reports that a cast had just been removed from his arm, and that his fingers “remained clenched up.”
The officer, who is described as a white male with five years on the force, pursued Matthews out of his own jurisdiction, and away from the area where his vehicle’s dashcam would record what took place. Police have not stated whether there is any video or audio evidence in this case.
Social justice advocates are calling for an independent investigation into the shooting.
Detroit police commissioner, Ricardo Moore, also called for an independent investigation into the shooting. Moore expressed concern about Police Chief Craig’s statements to the press, criticizing him for “escalating tensions in the community,” rather than increasing public trust.
“Because of … Craig’s biased statement against the deceased suspect, this situation would warrant an independent investigation from the Michigan State Police, solely. Craig should be trying to give the public trust in this investigation, as opposed to creating tension between the community and the police.”
Both Craig and Dearborn police chief Haddad have worked hard to demonize Matthews in the press. Although he has no felony criminal record, both the Detroit and Dearborn police chiefs want the public to believe that Matthews had a “crime problem.”
According to Reverend Charles Williams II, chair of the National Action Network (NAN) Matthews was both well-loved and well-respected in the community, in spite of the challenges he faced.
“He was one of those folks in the community who was definitely a respected person. Not only did they know him well, they knew his challenges well. Police officers on the Detroit side knew him also. When they saw him wandering, they would give him a ride to his mother’s house. It is concerning to me that the officer claimed he felt threatened. Not only did Kevin have a broken arm, but he was a very small guy.”