Teenager Killed by Undercover Police Was Unarmed, New Lawsuit Alleges

The Detroit Police Department said Michael Adams III produced a gun while fleeing, causing officers to use fatal force. A new lawsuit filed by Adams’ family says the undercover police officer did not identify themself and Adams was shot in the back.

The family of a Detroit teenager killed by an undercover police officer is suing the city for his wrongful death.

19-year-old Michael Adams III was shot after the car he was in crashed into an unmarked police vehicle in August. The Detroit Police Department says officers were stationed near GM’s Factory ZERO plant in Detroit-Hamtramck watching out for drag racers and drifters when the incident occurred.

Read the full lawsuit »

At the time, the Detroit Police Department said Adams produced a gun while fleeing and the officer used fatal force.

According to the lawsuit, Adams was shot twice in the back. Attorney David Robinson, who is representing Adams’ mother, disputes that assertion that the undercover police officer was in danger, saying they did not identify themself during the incident.

“One would presume that any bullet holes would be in the front of the suspect. Not so,” says Robinson. “So the inconsistent evidence is that all of the bullet holes are in the back.”

The lawsuit claims the officer’s shots were also fired toward a group of onlookers and that Adams was not in possession of a firearm.

“At the time that Mr. Adams was shot, his hands were up, and they did not see any gun in his hand,” says Robinson. “He was some distance from the weapon.”

Adams’ family is seeking $20 million in damages from the city of Detroit. DPD has not released any footage from the shooting and has not named the officers involved in the incident. They are listed as “John Doe” and “James Doe” in the complaint.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Eli Newman

    Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.