DETROIT (AP) — An unarmed black man who was fatally shot by suburban Detroit police suffered from mental illness and wasn’t a threat to officers, his mother said Thursday.
Valerie Johnson told The Associated Press that her son, 35-year-old Kevin Matthews, had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. She said she and her family question police claims that he was involved in a theft that led to Wednesday’s foot chase and shooting.
Detroit police haven’t identified the man who was shot by an officer from nearby Dearborn, but said the man was being sought on a misdemeanor warrant. Police said the man was shot after struggling with the officer in the backyard of a Detroit home near the Dearborn city limits.
Johnson, 57, said the man was her son.
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“It’s kind of rough on me. I miss my baby,” she said in a phone interview from a Detroit church where she was receiving grief counseling. “He was shot for nothing. He was a good guy. He was a good son, not a bad person.”
Detroit Chief James Craig has said the officer suffered minor injuries and that his uniform was ripped. Messages seeking comment about the case Thursday from Detroit and Dearborn police weren’t immediately returned.
A police watchdog group in Detroit called for the suspension of the Dearborn officer involved in Matthews’ death.
“For the sake of Kevin’s family, and for the peace and safety of our community, we believe suspension of the officer is necessary until the facts are known,” Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality spokesman Ken Reed said Thursday.
Police departments nationwide have been criticized, with some facing protests, following officer-involved shootings of black men.
More than 100 protesters temporarily shut down a terminal at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport on Wednesday to draw attention to last month’s death of Jamar Clark, who was shot by Minneapolis police responding to an assault complaint. In Chicago, persistent protests — including one Thursday — were sparked by the release of police dashcam video showing a white officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was holding a knife but appeared to be walking away from officers, 16 times in October 2014.