The Detroit Police Department has launched an internal investigation after an undercover operation involving two precincts went wrong.
Last Thursday, Nov. 9, as undercover officers converged on an Eastside neighborhood in Detroit—known for its constant drug activity—officers from different precincts started fighting each other instead of the criminals.
In a recent press briefing Detroit Police chief, James E. Craig told reporters that the whole incident was a “mistake.”
“This is probably one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in this department since I’ve been appointed as chief. In fact, I’d have to tell you it’s probably one of the most disappointing things I’ve experienced in my entire forty-year career,” Craig said in a Nov. 13 briefing. “This should not have happened.”
According to unnamed sources, the incident occurred when two special ops officers from the 12th Precinct were running an operation in Andover. It involved the two officers going undercover pretending to be drug dealers as they waited for customers to approach—before arresting potential buyers and seizing their vehicles, Fox2 Detroit reported.
However, instead of potential customers, special ops officers from the 11 Precinct showed up at the scene. Not realizing the officers were also undercover, the 12 Precinct officers ordered them to the ground.
As the rest of the special ops team from the 12th Precinct showed up, officers began raiding a house in the 19300 block of Andover.
But instead of fighting crime, the undercover officers fought each other as a brawl erupted.
According to ABC affiliate WXYZ, the raid became “heated” and “emotional” adding that even “bruising” was evident.
During the scramble, guns were drawn and punches were thrown, while the actual homeowner stood and watched the fight, sources told Fox2 Detroit.
Two dozen officers were involved in the incident, according to WXYZ. Raids usually involve officers wearing full tactical gear with assault rifles.
The undercover officers were operating a “push-off” in which arrests are made and vehicles are seized by the department to generate revenue, WXYZ reported.
Now each individual officer is under investigation as the department tries to figure out just what went wrong.
The incident was reported to officials in the Detroit Police Department, as well as internal affairs. According to Fox News, one officer was taken to the hospital.
A resident of Andover blamed the department’s mishandling of the operation on a lack of communication.
“You’ve gotta have communication,” the resident told Fox2 Detroit. “I don’t understand what happened about that—communicate.”
The resident also told the network that there is “definitely” a drug problem in the area “but I don’t think anyone can stop it.”