An undercover Detroit police officer fatally shot a man who pulled a handgun after the stolen car he was in slammed into an unmarked police vehicle while drifting along a narrow city street.

About 200 vehicles and at least that many spectators were gathered late Sunday night to view illegal drag racing and drifting when the shooting occurred, interim Detroit Police Chief James White told reporters Monday.

After the crash, the officer “sees our suspect who is reaching for something,” White said. “He yells ‘police.’ The suspect removes a weapon, produces the weapon. (The officer) says ‘drop it.’ The officer uses fatal force.”

The man attempted to run, but collapsed. He later died at a hospital, White added.

Drag racing has been a major problem in Detroit for the past few years. The undercover officer is part of a number of operations designed to curb it. He had radioed in for a police helicopter and a marked police vehicle just before his parked undercover vehicle was struck.

The suspect’s vehicle first sped by — going the wrong way on a one-way street — and skids around in circles, called drifting, White said.

Three men were sitting outside the vehicle on top of doors where the windows were down when it its driver lost control and struck the driver’s side of the unmarked police vehicle. The collision caused the police vehicle’s siren to blare.

One person was thrown from the stolen car. Two others ran away. The officer was trapped and kicked open the door of the police vehicle. That’s when he sees the man as he reached for what turned out to be a 9mm handgun, White said.

The suspect did not fire the handgun, White said.

Police were continuing to search Monday for the other men in the stolen car. The incident was under investigation. The dead man's name wasn't immediately released by police.


Williams reported from Southfield, Michigan.