Detroit Police Shoot and Kill Schizophrenic Man, Blame Mental Hospital for Releasing Him

Michael Moza, 30, was struggling with mental illness and was turned out of a psychiatric hospital hours before he died in a shootout with cops.

Courtesy Maegan Davis

Michael Moza was still wearing his hospital wristband when Detroit police killed him in a hail of gunfire during a car chase early Wednesday morning.

Moza, whod just turned 30, was struggling with schizophrenia and had tried checking into a psychiatric hospital hours before he died. But his family says the hospital released Moza without the medication he desperately needed.

Maegan Davis, Mozas sister, told ishonest he was upset when he visited her Tuesday night. I told the doctor, If anything happens to me, its on you, Moza said of the medic who allegedly let him go.

In a press conference Wednesday, Police Chief James Craig urged reporters to hold the mental health facility accountable for allegedly turning Moza away. He shifted blame for Mozas death to the Detroit Receiving Hospitals psychiatric center.

This system is broken, Craig said. He was crying out for help. He wanted the help, and now hes no longer here.

Craig detailed Mozas final movements and how officers went from disarming an armed and dangerous shooter to trying to save his life. Most of Craigs comments, however, focused on the alleged failings of mental health workers, not law enforcement.

Ive been talking about the broken systemit falls on deaf ears, Craig said, adding, When are we going to challenge and find out whats going on at the crisis center? Why are people being released? And if they are being released, is it because of short staff?

Detroit Receiving Hospital, which is affiliated with the Detroit Medical Center network, didnt return messages. A hospital spokesman would only tell The Detroit News: We cannot provide any information about patients at the crisis center.

For her part, Davis said Moza has been hospitalized at Detroit Receiving Hospitals crisis center previously for schizophrenia. Craig told reporters hospital staff should have looked up Mozas records and realized he had a caseworker.

Last Friday, a Detroit police sniper killed a 42-year-old man who held his girlfriend hostage in a nine-hour standoff. The Detroit Free Press reported the unidentified suspect had bipolar disorder, hadnt taken his medication for 48 hours, and had a history of violence. Craig said the incident marked the 28th this year involving a barricaded gunmanand that half those cases involved suspects with mental illnesses.

This system is broken and it needs to be fixed, Craig said after the mans death last week. This needs to be a priority, this is a public safety concern.

Moza encountered police just five days after the sniper takedown. Craig said Moza fired 13 bullets into a home in southwest Detroit Tuesday around 4 a.m. No one was injured, and police had no immediate suspects.

Later that morning, Moza worked as an election poll worker and called EMS after having a mental health episode. Police responded and brought Moza to Detroit Receiving Hospitals psychiatric crisis center, which reportedly released him hours later.

Moza allegedly returned to the same house around 1 a.m. Wednesday and fired shots again. After receiving a description of the suspects vehicle, police tried to pull Moza over. He led a sergeant on a high-speed chase across the citys east side, in a pursuit that was called off because of speed, Craig said.

Still, cops caught up with Moza, and during a second pursuit, Moza allegedly fired shots at the officers. Craig said one sergeant shot back through the windshield of his police cruiser, and a second sergeant may have also fired into Mozas car. A sergeant then blocked Moza and his vehicle stalled.

Multiple officers fired rounds at the suspect, Craig said. The suspect then took off from that location, he went a short distance at a high rate of speed, went through a fence and collided with a parked semi-tractor truck. Craig said a sergeant pulled Moza from the wreckage and tried to save his life before an ambulance arrived. Craig didnt say how many times Moza and the responding officers fired shots.

But the barrage of gunfire concerns Davis, who says she visited the crime scene and took her own photos of the yellow evidence markers dotting the pavement. She claimed she counted 98 shell casings at the crash site.

Davis said Moza was diagnosed with schizophrenia 10 years ago and suffered greatly from the disorder which included symptoms of paranoia. There were a lot of scary moments but never any violent moments. He wasnt a violent person. I don't think Michael had ever been in a fight in school, Davis said. He was super loving and family oriented. He suffered a lot of loss in his life.

Mozas father and older brother died when he was young, and his mother died two years ago. She said her sibling struggled with schizophrenia and drug addiction, and for the first time, he was living on his own and managing his medications. He was doing really well, so all of this was so shocking, Davis said.

Davis said something seemed off in Mozas voice Monday and she wondered if he was off his medication. He told her hed been in a fight with someone, but Davis assumed the altercation might have been a delusion. She said she now believes this squabble might have been why Moza shot up a particular house.

Asked about the police response, Davis said, I do understand that you cannot shoot at a police officer without there being an exchange of fire.

But Davis questioned why what appears to be 98 bullets were necessary to stop one suspect with a single handgun. It felt like overkill, she said.

They wont even tell us how many times he was hit, Davis said. Theyre telling us we have to wait until theres an autopsy performed.

In the meantime, Davis has organized a GoFundMe page to pay for Mozas funeral.

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