Sterling officer shoots suspect accused of endangering police

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 18, 2023


Sterling Heights police announced that one of their officers fired a gun at a stolen car that police said presented a risk of hitting officers the night of Dec. 14.

Police said they stopped a gray Chrysler 300 along Carbon Drive, south of 15 Mile Road, between Van Dyke Avenue and Maple Lane Drive, at around 11:15 p.m. 

Police said the reason for the stop was that the vehicle had tinted windows and had been driving while its headlights were not operating. Officers added that they later learned that the car had been stolen in Detroit.

But when officers approached the vehicle on foot to talk to the driver, the vehicle allegedly took off. A vehicle chase ensured that reportedly went as fast as 60 mph. Police said the Chrysler went into a neighborhood south of 15 Mile Road and reached a dead end at Forrer Court, near Amsterdam Drive. 

When police once again tried to walk up to the stopped car, the driver tried to get away again while endangering the officers with the risk of being hit, according to police. 

Police said an officer then fired gunshots “into the front of the vehicle,” and the suspect was reportedly wounded multiple times. Police said officers then rendered aid right away, and the Sterling Heights Fire Department took the suspect to the hospital. 

Police said the suspect’s condition was stable. An officer was also hospitalized and released for minor injuries, Sterling Heights police Lt. Mario Bastianelli said in a statement.

“Per our department protocol regarding officer-involved shootings, the Michigan State Police have been requested and are now investigating this incident,” Bastianelli added.  

On Dec. 18, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office identified the suspect as Aaquil Dejuan Cleary, 28, from Detroit. 

According to prosecutors, Cleary was arraigned Dec. 18 in Sterling Heights’ 41-A District Court before Magistrate Michael Piatek and was charged with third-degree fleeing police, a five-year felony; receiving and concealing stolen property, a five-year felony; and driving with a suspended license, a 93-day misdemeanor. The Prosecutor’s Office added that the defendant “is being charged as a habitual fourth offender.” 

Bond was set at $100,000 cash, no 10%, and Cleary is required to put on a GPS tether if bond is posted, prosecutors said. Cleary’s next scheduled court dates included a Dec. 27 probable cause conference and a Jan. 3, 2024, preliminary exam before Judge Kimberley Wiegand. Cleary had no attorney listed on the MiCOURT online database at press time. 

In a statement, Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido thanked State Police for investigating the case.

“My office takes gun cases very seriously and will hold those accountable for their actions,” Lucido said. 

Anyone who has more information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Michigan State Police by calling (517) 332-2521.

Call Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at (586) 498-1058.