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Mich. Cop Charged With Manslaughter

September 27, 2000

DETROIT (AP) _ A policeman was charged with manslaughter Wednesday for shooting to death a deaf-mute who approached officers with a rake in his hands.

David Krupinski, 23, fired on 39-year-old Errol Shaw after police were called about a family dispute Aug. 29.

The Detroit NAACP called the shooting of Shaw ``horrifying and sickening.″ Shaw was black, the officer is white.

According to prosecutors, Shaw, who has been unable to hear or speak since birth, approached Krupinski and three other officers while carrying a wooden-handled rake, and Krupinski shot him twice.

``Basically, our position was that it was unreasonable to resort to fatal force without exploring other options,″ including the use of pepper spray or simply backing away, prosecutor Kevin Simowski said.

Krupinski was freed on $100,000 bail. The manslaughter charge carries up to 15 years in prison.

Calls to Krupinski and his lawyer were not immediately returned.

``This is a sad day for all police officers all around,″ said Krupinski’s mother, Ellen Holmes. ``They have a young man who was out there risking his life, doing his job, and they call him a criminal?″

Police Chief Benny Napoleon, who did not immediately return a call either, has said that the rake was a dangerous weapon and that officers are trained to shoot to kill when threatened with deadly force. He said pepper spray is not meant for use against people who pose a deadly threat.

The shooting prompted Mayor Dennis Archer to ask the Justice Department on Monday to conduct a review of the Shaw case and other shootings involving the Detroit police. The mayor said he wanted to boost public confidence in the police force.

The Detroit Free Press, in an analysis of FBI data, said the city leads the nation’s largest metropolitan areas in fatal police shootings, with 0.92 shootings per 100,000 residents.

Annie Shaw, the victim’s mother, told reporters Wednesday she pleaded with police not to shoot her son because he could not hear them.

The Detroit News quoted police as saying that Shaw did not respond to repeated orders from officers to stop and that he was holding the rake like a baseball bat.

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