MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said the department has lowered its threat level following Wednesday night’s operation in Frayser in which dozens of officers were injured by an angry crowd following the shooting death of a suspect by U.S. Marshals.
Rallings said he has contacted the officers who were injured, and all told him they were ready to get back to work. He did not specify their injuries, but said some some were “pretty severe.”
He stressed, however, that no one was killed in the incident, which made national headlines.
“I’m going to stand behind my commanders,” Rallings said. “We’re going to get better and we’re going to continue to protect the city.”
Dozens of MPD officers and Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies were hurt as they secured a scene on Durham Street for a TBI investigation after marshals shot and killed suspect Brandon Webber as they attempted to arrest him on warrants for a shooting in DeSoto County.
The Memphis Police Department raised its threat level to Level Three because of civil unrest and several threats against law enforcement. They are now back to a Level One, Rallings said.
He addressed criticism that some officers at the scene were not dressed in riot gear that might have protected them, saying that the first officers who arrived were dressed in regular uniforms because the violence only began several hours after the shooting.
MPD would review the Frayser situation, as it does any major operation, to see what was done well and what could be done better in the future, Rallings said.
Mike Williams, president of the Memphis Police Association, said officers “incurred long suffering that night, unfortunately. But I think it could have been a lot worse.”
Rallings thanked his officers, and also thanked Webber’s mother and father, who have called for peace in the face of violence and future disruption.
“I want to especially thank Brandon’s mother and father who called for peace. Outside forces were calling for violence and further disruption, but you called for peace and understanding.”
He also stressed that MPD is often in Frayser building relationships.
“I hope that the good people of Frayser will continue to partner with us,” Rallings said. “And they already are. I do not think that incident represents our community.”
— Peter Fleischer contributed