Officer Benjamin Atkinson

(Detroit Police Department, Michigan)

On March 15, 2017, at 8:20 p.m., Officers James Kisselburg and Benjamin Atkinson were on patrol in the area of Ash and Tillman Street in the city of Detroit. Following the homicide of a Wayne State police officer and complaints of narcotic activity, these officers were conducting a street investigation of a male subject who was walking in the road. Unknown to the officers, this subject was armed and was involved in the Wayne State police officer homicide.

While the officers performed a pat down of the subject’s outer garment, the subject quickly withdrew a handgun from his waistband and shot both officers. Officer Kisselburg was critically wounded from a gunshot to his jaw. The same round entered and shattered his right shoulder blade and struck three of his vertebrae before exiting his left shoulder. He was shot a second time in his left shoulder, with the round lodged at the base of his neck. Officer Atkinson was shot twice in the chest, but was protected by his bullet proof vest, and he was shot once in the leg, shattering his right ankle. Officer Atkinson was able to return fire and forced the assailant to retreat.

Officer Atkinson then crawled over to his partner and laid on top of him to protect him from further injury as the assailant began shooting again at the officers. Officer Atkinson was again able to return fire, forcing the assailant to flee the area on foot. Officer Atkinson then radioed, “officers down,” which prompted back up officers to immediately respond to the scene.

Upon arrival, the responding officers were able to provide basic medical treatment to both wounded officers. Realizing that Officer Kisselburg was gravely injured, they placed him in the rear of a patrol vehicle and drove him to Detroit Receiving Hospital. Detroit EMS personnel responded shortly thereafter and transported Officer Atkinson to the hospital. While en route, Officer Atkinson provided one of the responding sergeants with photo identification of the assailant, and this information was subsequently radioed to patrol units canvassing the area for him.

Members of the Tactical Response Unit located a blood trail and found the assailant hiding in some brush. They were able to take him into custody and recovered the handgun that was used in the shooting. The assailant had been wounded during the gun battle with Officer Atkinson, and was transported by the Tactical Response Unit to the hospital for treatment. He was subsequently charged with attempted murder of both officers as well as the murder of the Wayne State police officer. Both wounded officers were treated and continue to recover from their injuries.

Officer Kisselburg and Atkinson were violently assaulted without provocation, both suffering gunshot wounds during the incident. Although wounded, Officer Atkinson stayed in the fight, returning fire to fend off the assailant. Without regard for his own safety, Officer Atkinson courageously used his body to cover his critically wounded partner, and also had the presence of mind to not only call for assistance but to provide critical information to responding officers that assisted in the apprehension of the assailant.

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