TAYLOR, Mich. – A man once named officer of the year by the Police Officers Association of Michigan was fatally shot Friday while responding to a burglary call, officials said.
Cpl. Matthew Edwards, 31, is the first officer killed in the line of duty in the history of the Taylor police department in suburban Detroit.
"Officer Edwards made the ultimate sacrifice — something we sometimes take for granted as we put on our uniforms every day," Taylor police Cmdr. Dan Crowell said. "As law enforcement officers, we all expect to go home at night to our families."
Edwards was married with two children and joined the Taylor police in January 2005. He was recognized by the police association in 2008 for fatally shooting a knife-wielding man on Dec. 16, 2007, at a mobile home park. Edwards and his partner, Jeffrey Graves, were responding to a domestic dispute.
Crowell said Edwards and another officer went to an apartment complex around 6 a.m. on Friday after receiving a call that someone was trying to enter one of the units through a window. Edwards and his partner came across a man matching the suspect's description in the parking lot, Crowell said.
The second officer headed toward the site of the alleged breaking-and-entering, while Edwards talked to the suspect. Crowell said the suspect — a 36-year-old Westland man with "quite a lengthy criminal history" — pulled out a gun and shot Edwards, who was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Edwards' partner shot the suspect, who was taken to the hospital and had surgery.
Crowell said although Edwards and his partner were responding to a report of a break-in, it more likely was a domestic disturbance at the apartment complex.
Resident Arthur White, 38, said the Coppertree complex is in a rough area where drugs and teenage delinquency are common. "A lot of activity here," he said. "Drugs. Teenagers walking around."
White said a woman was fatally shot two days after he moved into Coppertree several years ago.
In 2007, a woman was killed during a dispute involving her son and others. At the time, police said she tried to intervene and two people shot in her direction.
On Friday, Coppertree residents were met by yellow police tape affixed to trees throughout the complex. Investigators went door-to-door in the immediate area to talk to residents.
At Taylor police headquarters, Lt. John Blair said it had been "a rough day" as people dealt with losing a comrade in the line of duty.
"We've escaped it to this point," he said.
While Crowell was reading a prepared statement to reporters, he uttered Edwards' name for the first time, then took a long pause to compose himself before continuing.
"It's a very sad day for the Taylor police department," he said.
Associated Press Writer David Aguilar in Detroit contributed to this report.