The Detroit cops seen driving through protesters in viral video thought they were being “fired upon,” their police chief said as his department released dramatic dashcam footage of the chaos.
Chief James Craig told a press conference that two marked squad vehicles were parked to block protesters from going down a main road when they were set upon by 25 to 30 “agitators” Sunday night.
Several of the group “exhibiting violent behavior” then “jumped on the hood of the car,” he said, pointing to the released dashcam footage which showed some jumping on, flying off as the squad car sped away.
The main vehicle being surrounded initially tried “slowly moving” through the angry crowd — but feared the worse when the back window was smashed out, the chief said, also releasing images of the damage.
The officers were “not certain that they were not being fired upon,” the chief said — pointing to the loud bangs caught by the dashcams.
“It was important for them to get out of there for their safety, and certainly the safety of others,” he insisted. “So that’s where you see in the video — that they accelerated it to get out of there.”
The chief also read a message from one of the protesters who claimed that the group had been “plotting to provoke police.”
“Would you prefer the officers sat in the car, waiting for someone to break out the side windows and begin to drag the officers out and start assaulting?” he asked, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“That’s realistic. Those things happen,” he said, saying the “officers did the right thing” in following training to escape when ambushed.
Several protest groups in the city were not appeased by his claims and on Monday called for the chief’s resignation, the Free Press said.