A Twist in Detroit Cop Shooting May Make 'Friendly Fire' Issue More Complicated

April 08, 2013, 8:33 AM by  Allan Lengel

Investigators are trying to determine if one of two wounded Detroit cops on an ATF task force was injured as a result of friendly fire in a shootout with a murder suspect last week on the city’s west side.

That may not be easy.

Law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation being conducted by Detroit Police and Michigan State Police say the officer suffered injuries to the head from metal-like fragments that may not be from a bullet. Instead, the fragments may have come from something like metal from a car that was struck by a bullet, sources said.

Authorities say that Matthew Joseph, 23, a murder suspect who was on parole for an armed robbery conviction, opened fire on task force members as they tried to arrest him by blocking his car at Linwood and Hooker shortly after 6 p.m. last Tuesday. Officers returned fire and killed him.

Sources say Joseph had a .40-caliber gun, the same caliber Detroit police use. One officer was shot twice in the leg. The officer who suffered head injuries remains in Ford Hospital in serious condition.

“From the trajectory and the results of the ballistic tests they should be able to determine where the metal came from and whose gun was fired,”  said a law enforcement source who has been briefed on the matter. 

Donald Dawkins, a spokesman for ATF in Detroit, said Sunday night that the agency does not comment on pending investigations. 

The wounded officer is a 12-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department in his mid-30s. He was conscious and talking, and walked into Ford Hospital on his own after being transported by law enforcement on Tuesday evening, sources say. He underwent surgeries to deal with damage caused by the metal fragments.

The other officer, a sergeant about 50 with 24 years on the force, was shot in the leg twice. He was treated and released from the hospital. 

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