GRPD chief responds after officer accidentally fires gun

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne said a criminal and internal investigation are underway after an officer accidentally fired his gun.

On Tuesday, Payne said Michigan State Police is investigating what led to Thursday’s incident. After the MSP investigation is finished, the Grand Rapids Police Department will conduct an internal investigation.

The police department said officers were searching for a stolen vehicle around 10:30 p.m. Thursday. Officers believed they found it then set up a perimeter outside a house where it was parked near the area of Cass Avenue SE and Sycamore Street SE.

When officers approached the driver outside of the house, Payne said one of the officers accidentally fired his gun. The bullet hit a building. There were no reports of injuries. Police then realized they had both the wrong vehicle and suspect.

The driver, 30-year-old Daevionne Smith, told News 8 Friday that he thought he was going to die when he heard the gunshot. He is calling for the police department to be held accountable.

During the news conference Tuesday morning, Payne promised investigators would get to the bottom of what happened.

“This was a traumatic experience for everyone, especially Mr. Smith, who was the driver of the vehicle. We will learn from this and try to do better to keep this community safe,” said Payne.

When asked if he had spoken to Smith since the incident, Payne said he had not.

“At this point, I have not. Of course, there are two investigations that are ongoing, and I would not want to interfere with those investigations. At some point, I would be glad to sit down when it’s appropriate and have a conversation with Mr. Smith,” Payne said.

The officer who fired the shot has been with the department for more than 20 years. He is on leave while the case remains under investigation. His name has not been released.

“We take this very seriously. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often. In fact, we had to look back at our records and it was back 20 years ago that we had an officer in a similar situation where they had an accidental discharge, but I wouldn’t say it’s OK. I’m glad and fortunate that no one was hurt,” said Payne. 

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