Gun used in fatal shooting of Detroit officer purchased within the last 2 weeks, police say 

Detroit Police Chief James White said Wednesday’s shooting was an ambush and that the alleged gunman wanted to die at the hands of police. 

Detroit Police Chief speaks at a podium with a photo of Officer Loren Courts behind him.

DPD Police Chief James White speaks about the shooting of Officer Loren Courts, on Thursday, July 7, at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.

A 19-year-old Detroit man shot and killed Officer Loren Courts before being fatally shot by other officers, police say.

Officers responded to a report of shots fired around 7:30 p.m. in the area near Joy Road and Hubbell Avenue on the city’s northwest side Wednesday evening. Police say Ehmani Davis, 19, shot out the window of a building, hitting Courts who was in his squad car. Courts and his partner, Officer Amanda Hudgens, got out of the car and other officers arrived.

The gun used was a semiautomatic Draco pistol, similar in caliber to an AK-47 that is designed to fire multiple rounds in quick succession, said Christopher Graveline, the department’s director of professional standards and constitutional policing. As the shooter walked out of the building, the other four officers who were providing cover for Courts and Hudgens, who was giving her partner first aid, fatally shot the 19-year-old.

DPD Director of Professional Standards Chris Graveline speaks about the timeline of the shooting, on Thursday, July 7, at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters Photo Credit: Nate Pappas/WDET

“He wanted to die”

Detroit Police Chief James White says the suspect had a death wish.

“My opinion based on the evidence that I’ve seen thus far, it is my belief that he wanted to commit suicide by cop,” White said. “The fact that he murdered a police officer and then casually walked out of the front door and advanced on other police officers as they were rendering aid to the officer he had just murdered — he wanted to die.”

White singled out the actions of Hudgens, who tended to Courts even as the suspect approached.

“I think she just prepared to die,” White said. “She braced herself to be shot in the back of the head or in the back while she administered first aid.”

Davis’ criminal history is unclear at the moment. According to DPD, the suspect purchased the firearm that killed Courts within the last two weeks.

Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison speaks about the shooting of Officer Loren Courts, on Thursday, July 7, at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters Photo Credit: Nate Pappas/WDET

Gun purchase comes amid recent wave of violence

White expressed frustration over Davis’ recent purchase of the Draco semiautomatic weapon amid a recent string of gun violence across the country, including a mass shooting in a Chicago suburb at a Fourth of July parade.

“A lot of everything that’s going on in this country, an assault rifle that was recently purchased, [it’s] counterintuitive that we would be selling assault rifles,” White said.
White says low bail and lenient sentencing are part of the reason why there is an increase in violent crime.

“There is zero penalty for criminality unless it’s something extreme. There’s no penalty for bad behavior. There’s no fear of the judicial system. There’s not correcting behavior like it used to.”

White has been critical with the courts for moving slowly since the onset of the pandemic.

“We need the courts. We need lawmakers to step up,” White said. “It’s getting a little bit old hearing about what everyone’s going to do. It’s time to do it.”

Courts, 40, was a husband and father of two children. His father is a retired Detroit police officer who “encouraged his son to join the Detroit Police Department to continue his legacy,” White says.


Photo credit: Nate Pappas/WDET

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.