A newly released video showed the moment a significant breakdown in communication led to a fight between two sets of undercover Detroit police officers.
The situation began when special operations officers from the 12th Precinct were pretending to be drug dealers in what is known as a “push off.” The “dealers” waited to be approached by potential buyers, where they would then drop their cover, arrest the would-be buyer, and seize their vehicle. They were met instead by officers in the 11th Precinct, who were executing a search warrant on a suspected drug house in Andover, which borders the two precincts on 7 Mile Road.
A brawl between the two groups ensued after the 11th Precinct officers pulled guns on the 12th Precinct officers and ordered them to the ground. The situation only became worse inside of the house that was being raided. Confusion led to arguing, shoving, punches being thrown and someone being placed in a headlock.
It was said that the owner of the suspected drug house looked on as the fight continued.
A body camera on one of the officers present captured the fight. The footage was obtained by WXYZ:
The footage is a part of a larger investigation, which is currently underway.
Two officers were treated at the hospital for their injuries, one for a contusion to his eye socket, another for a split lip. Several of involved were placed on restricted duty. At least one supervisor was removed from the special operations team.
Over two dozens officers were present that evening.
“This is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in this department since I was appointed chief,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said in a press conference. “This is something that should not have happened.”
“A member of our community who witnessed this behavior that we’re calling a lack of maturity, a lack of leadership, said they appeared to be like Keystone Cops. And I couldn’t agree more,” the police chief said, referencing a fictional group of incompetent officers that showed up in silent films.
“You’ve gotta have to have more communication, I guess,” one resident said following the incident.
This is not the first time mistaken identities between two undercover Detroit officers has led to disaster.
In February 1986, Officer Mark Radden and his partner, Officer Jack Buffa, responded to reports of shooting at the same house. The officers, both in plainclothes, exchanged fire unknowingly with each other. The firefight ended in the fatal wounding of both men. Since this incident, Detroit precincts have put certain policies in place to avoid the situation from happening ever again.