The Kent County prosecutor says Grand Rapids officers were justified in fatal shooting of 18-year-old man during a gun battle earlier this month. Prosecutor Chris Becker released his decision Tuesday, along with dash camera and body camera video showing the May 3 shooting of Malik Carey. The footage from dashcams and bodycams shows officers approach Carey as he was seated in the back seat of a car on Dickinson Street near Kalamazoo Avenue SE. They were looking for him in coordination with Grand Rapids Public Schools because he hadn’t been showing up for class. Prosecutors say Carey gave a fake name, so officers waited to get a picture of him to confirm he was the person they were looking for. In the meantime, Carey and one of the officers chatted nonchalantly about Carey’s dreadlocks.
But once officers confirmed Carey’s identity, things turned violent. Prosecutors highlighted portions of the video that show Carey pulling a gun from his waistband. The officers scrambled back, one of them shouting, “gun, gun, gun, gun.” Shots rang out. Police say Carey got off four shots before officers returned fire. It sounded in the video as though a total of about 15 shots were exchanged. Carey died at the hospital. No police officers were shot. The police chief and the prosecutor said officers acted appropriately given the circumstances. In fact, Becker said that had Carey survived, he would have been charged with attempted murder. “They had no other option,” Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky said, speaking to reporters after the video was released. “It just goes, in my mind, to reinforce just how dangerous a profession that law enforcement is.”
“I think they’re very lucky,” Prosecutor Becker said as he released his decision. “You look how close that was — that photograph of the gun pointed — and there’s two officers right there. But for the grace of God, neither one of them got hit.” The three officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure. Two have already returned to work, and the third should be back on the job soon. Carey, of Grand Rapids, was a probation absconder and has a criminal history dating back to 2010, when he was 12. In 2015, he was charged with assault with intent to murder in connection to a Kentwood shooting, though he later pleaded to a less serious charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm.