Staged Detroit Police Purse Snatching Goes Horribly Wrong

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Detroit police simulated purse snatching

How dumb can you get?

This is the question many Detroiters are likely asking themselves after Fox 2 News uncovered a dim-witted attempted by the Detroit Police Department to simulate a purse snatching–allegedly, at the request of local TV station WDIV Channel 4.

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According to Fox 2′s report, the simulated snatching, which took place at a gas station, was suppose to be something of a public service video designed to help citizens identify criminals whom they witness commit a crime. The idea was doomed from the start. For one, the gas station where the simulated snatching took place is used by the FBI. Two, an FBI agent was pumping gas as the simulation unfolded.

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Inspector Shawn Gargalino of the Detroit Police Department explains what happened from there: “The event takes place. The officer takes the purse, runs around the gas station. As he’s running, an off-duty FBI agent is pumping gas. He witnesses the whole thing. He gives chase. He pulls his weapon, and as he turns the corner around the gas station, he’s stopped by another officer, who identifies herself as a police officer and don’t shoot, don’t shoot, this is a scenario.”

Fortunately, the agent did not shoot and no one was hurt.

Watch a full video report on what went wrong with the purse snatching:

When the Detroit Police Department was asked to comment on what happened, here is what they had to say:

“WDIV Channel 4′s request to have two members of the Detroit Police Department participate in its “How to Be a Better Witness” story was approved by DPD leadership. The simulated crime occurred in front of actual witnesses, in order to demonstrate what the witnesses did or did not see, which is very important during the process of an investigation. WDIV’s goal was to educate the public on safety and crime prevention. The demonstration involved an unarmed suspect (played by a police officer) snatching a woman’s purse as she (WDIV Associate) exited a local gas station located at Michigan and 11th Street. As the unarmed “suspect” fled with the purse, an FBI agent who was coincidentally at the scene of the demonstration initiated a brief enforcement action, taking two steps forward, then was immediately informed by a uniformed police officer that there was no actual crime in progress. Ironically, this demonstration revealed that when a crime occurs in the community, we never know who will be watching.”

Fox 2 said they reached out to WDIV for comment, but have not heard back.

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Detroit’s incoming police chief, James Craig, told Fox 2 News that he was outraged by the simulation and promises to get to the bottom of what happened.

The botched simulation could not have come at a worse time for the police department. This week, Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley is on trial for manslaughter for the 2010 accidental killing of seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones during a house raid; a TV crew was invited to film the raid.

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