Police haven’t said why a Royal Oak police officer opened fire and fatally shot a 28-year-old man inside his vehicle at a White Castle drive-thru on April 11, and a lawyer and relative of the man who was killed believes charges should be filed.
The case remains under investigation by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and no charges have been filed against the officer.
Police say Antonino T. Gordon, who was driving a relative’s BMW, fled a traffic stop and was later found waiting in the drive-thru line before he was shot.
Bloomfield Township attorney Joseph Dedvukaj, who is representing Gordon’s family, claims a woman who was in the drive-thru line behind Gordon and a patron inside the restaurant said the unidentified officer wasn’t directly in the path of Gordon’s vehicle.
The gunshots “were from the driver’s side, slightly behind the driver, the equivalent of shooting somebody in the back,” the attorney said.
The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide resulting from gunshot wounds to the chest and arm.
Dedvukaj, whose niece was married to Gordon, says the witness who was inside the White Castle “told the cop to, ‘Stop, stop, don’t shoot him,’ and he kept shooting.”
The witness in the drive-thru said “she saw everything,” the attorney claims. “She gave a statement that this shooting did not have to happen.”
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on Dedvujak’s assertions.
“The attorney can claim whatever he wants to claim, but that does not mean his claims are necessarily correct, because the investigation is ongoing,” Oakland County Undersheriff Michalel McCabe told MLive in an email.
The family took possession of Gordon’s body and plans to conduct its own autopsy, Dedvukaj said. He said preliminary information provided to him by the family’s pathologist indicate Gordon was shot twice in the chest, from side. There was another graze wound on the left shoulder, Dedvukaj said.
“You can fear for your life if you’re in front of the vehicle,” Dedvukaj said of the possibility the police officer will claim self defense, “but at that point, what would you shoot — the windshield.”
Dedvukaj says the bullets entered the driver’s side of the vehicle.
He expects that surveillance footage from the White Castle restaurant — if not also the officer’s dashcam footage — will show exactly what happened.
Investigators seized the video and camera system, but “at some point I will get access to it,” Dedvukaj said.
Following the shooting, Royal Oak police released a statement that Gordon had “numerous contacts with law enforcement, including multiple arrests for operating while intoxicated and disorderly conduct” and “had an outstanding arrest warrant.”
According to Royal Oak 44th District Court Records, Gordon was convicted of operating while under the influence in May of 2016 for a 2015 incident. He was sentenced to a year of probation, and court records indicate he was charged with a probation violation in June 2017.
He had another operating while intoxicated charge dismissed in March 2016 and a resisting or obstructing police charge dismissed in April 2012.
Dedvukaj says there’s no way the officer knew Gordon had an outstanding warrant, because the car was owned and registered to the attorney’s brother.
He argues there have been “many cases that the cops are taking the law into their own hands, and they’re not following constitutional law.”
A group of demonstrators gathered in Oak Park Tuesday night to protest recent officer-involved shootings.
In another suburban Detroit shooting earlier this month, Troy police shot and killed 23-year-old Robert G. Issa on April 9 outside his family home when Issa allegedly charged police while armed with knives.