BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - The police-involved killing of Darrius Wimberly is creating tension in Benton Harbor. Tuesday, unanswered questions loomed over the Michigan community.
"This was really brutal, like really, because if it was that bad, no officer got shot...nobody's hurt. You just got a dead body," said Canvas Smith, friend of Wimberly.
The shooting death of the 28-year-old is not sitting well with area residents, including his friends and relatives.
"As far as shooting at them…I don't…I just…I don't believe it, I don't. He just was not that type of person to be so evil and just shoot at the police," said Smith.
Just after 2:15 a.m. Tuesday, four Benton Harbor police officers were dispatched to the 900 block of Pavone St. on a report of a man holding someone at gunpoint inside a home.
Upon arrival, officers say they approached the home with caution due to the nature of the call; however, when they knocked on the door, residents said no one had called police.
According to the Benton Harbor Dept. of Public Safety, officials say the residents allowed the officers to look around, and when they didn’t find anything wrong, the officers left.
That’s when investigators say Wimberly began shooting at officers, and they ran for cover. One of those officers returned fire, hitting the gunman. He was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
Tuesday morning, Michigan State Police and the Benton Harbor Dept. of Public Safety held a news conference on the investigation. Wimberly's family members were in attendance and declined to comment. They also requested not to be filmed.
As police discussed the investigation, Wimberly's family appeared to be angry and in shock. Emotions were running high, especially toward the end of the meeting, when a few relatives spoke out. They pressed police to talk about who cleaned up the crime scene.
"Maybe it was an accident maybe it wasn't. We'll never know because the investigation is going so rocky where who has the correct story? said Smith.
Benton Harbor's Director of Public Safety, Dan McGinnis, replied saying that Benton Harbor Police took care of the crime scene; however, they immediately turned the investigation over to Michigan State Police.
Following the news conference, Smith spoke out, saying she believes police are handling this investigation incorrectly.
"I do know the whole investigation sounds like a crap...a load of crap. I can tell you that, the whole investigation of it, it just doesn't sound right at all. It doesn't even look right, like I've never seen an ambulance take a dead body...maybe come out and try to work on the body trying to save it. They usually don't pick it up. You have to wait 'til the coroner comes to get it," said Smith. "So it just all sounds crazy. Nobody has a straight answer for anything. He couldn't give any of the news reporters a straight answer of nothing going on...sounded like bologna. He just got up there with something political to say and he just looked crazy saying it."
Smith described Wimberly as a kind and generous person. She says he received his nickname, "Karate," for his love of the martial art.
Even after police detailed that they found two semi-automatic weapons on the suspect and about seven cartridges from one of those weapons, Smith says she does not believe Wimberly fired at the officers.
"If he was trying to shoot and kill somebody, why was he the only one that got shot? No other officer was hurt. Haven't said anything about there was a bullet hole in the car anything. Just that he's dead out on the street and they didn't even have the decency to call the fire department or anyone to wash his blood up. His family had to get out there and wash the blood up. They treated it like it was nothing," said Smith.
Tuesday afternoon, a large crowd gathered on Pavone St. where the shooting took place. The scene was tense, and it was clear community members did not want the media around.
Moving forward, Smith expressed her concern for the community's relationship with Benton Harbor's police officers.
"We all are humans, everybody is human. It doesn't matter the color of your skin or eyes, all are human. For them to just treat his situation so inhumane, it's sad. It makes you not even want to call the police if something is going on with you," said Smith.
To read the full story outlining this investigation, click here.