Here's a bizarre and dangerous tale.
Fox 2's Charlie LeDuff reports that an off-duty FBI agent almost shot a Detroit cop on Wednesday at a gas station in Detroit's Corktown area during a "lamebrain" incident.
He reports that the Detroit Police Department was simulating a purse snatching at the station at Michigan Avenue and 11th Street so WDIV could tape bystanders' reactions. WDIV was trying to produce an instructive segment to educate the public on safety and crime prevention.
Problem was that an off-duty FBI agent was filling up and witnessed the plain-clothed cop snatching the purse from a WDIV associate. He had no idea it wasn't real, LeDuff reports. So the FBI agent gave chase to the cop and pulled out a gun, according LeDuff's report.
The immediate supervisor of these cops had no idea this was happening until they called him.
"The event takes place. The officer takes the purse, runs around the gas station. As he's running, an off-duty FBI agent is pumping gas. He witnesses the whole thing. He gives chase. He pulls his weapon, and as he turns the corner around the gas station, he's stopped by another officer, who identifies herself as a police officer and don't shoot, don't shoot, this is a scenario," said Inspector Shawn Gargalino with the Detroit Police Department.
That is the same description of events we got from four other ranking law enforcement officials, including Lieutenant Chuck Flannagan, a 28-year veteran of DPD.
"It's a tragedy waiting to happen. In fact, I understand an FBI agent did pull a weapon because he didn't believe it was a staged, and some officers had to run forward to prevent him from possibly shooting an officer. We have enough robberies at gas stations that most people aren't going to assume it's a mock robbery," he said.
"You had citizens who could've been hurt. A lot of people out here have CPLs now and carry weapons. They're tired of the crime that's going on in Detroit, and they might want to stand up and help somebody that's in this type of situation. It just so happened it's a gas station where the FBI fills up all their vehicles," Gargalino said.
The department issued this statement on Thursday:
"WDIV Channel 4's request to have two members of the Detroit Police Department participate in its "How to Be a Better Witness" story was approved by DPD leadership. The simulated crime occurred in front of actual witnesses, in order to demonstrate what the witnesses did or did not see, which is very important during the process of an investigation. WDIV's goal was to educate the public on safety and crime prevention. The demonstration involved an unarmed suspect (played by a police officer) snatching a woman's purse as she (WDIV Associate) exited a local gas station located at Michigan and 11th Street. As the unarmed "suspect" fled with the purse, an FBI agent who was coincidentally at the scene of the demonstration initiated a brief enforcement action, taking two steps forward, then was immediately informed by a uniformed police officer that there was no actual crime in progress. Ironically, this demonstration revealed that when a crime occurs in the community, we never know who will be watching."
James Craig, the incoming chief of police, voiced outrage and vowed to get to the bottom of this, LeDuff reports.