A Muslim convert in Michigan taunted police officers by waving and rubbing together the edges of knives before being shot by a member of the Washtenaw Metro SWAT team, police testified last week, according to MLive.
Police were initially called to the Ypsilanti apartment building in the 700 block of Lowell Street when Rodger Ketchman, 33, began banging on his neighbor’s door with a crowbar, neighbor Emerald Cox, testified.
“He was saying, ‘I’m going to kill you,'” she said.
Cox said she’d had previous encounters with Ketchman, claiming he came to her door on Christmas Eve to ask if she and her family were part of the CIA.
She also said she saw him attack a neighbor with a crowbar on Jan. 12, an incident for which he is charged in a separate case with assault with a dangerous weapon and carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent.
In that incident, neighbor Daniel Stults testified Thursday that Ketchman ordered him to "get on the ground and bow before Allah".
On Jan. 13, he knocked off Cox’s doorknob with the crowbar, she testified.
When she called police, then-Ypsilanti Officer Tommy Porter – now with the Hazel Park Police Department – and Ypsilanti Officer Anthony Schembri responded.
They were among six law enforcement officers who testified.
Porter, who knew Ketchman from various past incidents – including a medical assist call for a drug withdrawal and issues with neighbors – said he the man was yelling in his apartment when the officers arrived.
The two officers attempted to coax Ketchman out of his apartment, Porter said, but he kept yelling and said he wanted the officers to watch him wash his genitals.
He also told them they were trespassing, and said he would fight them and defend his property, Porter said.
When Ketchman eventually opened the door, he kept one arm hidden, Porter said.
“I asked him to see his hands multiple times,” Porter said. “I could see his left hand and at one point, he props his right hand on the top of the door, and at that point, that’s when I noticed he had (what) looked like a kitchen knife in his hand.”
The two officers drew Tasers, but Ketchman slammed the door, Porter said.
They deployed a Taser when Ketchman opened the door again, but lost connection when he slammed the door once more, Schembri testified.
After higher-ranking command officers arrived, police forced their way into the apartment and found Ketchman had gone into his bedroom, Schembri said.
He’d occasionally open the door in the small apartment, between six to eight feet away from the officers, and show the knives in his hands.
Another Taser attempt failed against another slamming door, Schembri said.
“He’d open the door and then he’d close it and open the door – it was like he was playing with us,” Schembri said.
Washtenaw Metro SWAT and the Washtenaw Crisis Negotiation Team were both called to the scene, with Ann Arbor police Detective William Stanford the first to enter the apartment as a crisis negotiator, according to court testimony.
Schembri also stayed in the room.
Stanford and Schembri described lengthy attempts end the situation peacefully, with Ketchman continually defying orders and displaying a sword.
Then, with SWAT members in the hallway, Ketchman made a motion as if he was going to throw the knife at Stanford, forcing the negotiator to dive out of the room, Stanford said.
Shortly afterward, Ketchman gave a countdown and exited the room, and SWAT engaged, Stanford said.
A less-lethal weapon that uses projectiles with foam tips was fired once at Ketchman to get SWAT members into the apartment. But it didn’t seem to have an effect on Ketchman, SWAT member and Ann Arbor police Officer Andrew Vainner testified.
When Ketchman opened the door with a knife and sword over his head, two SWAT members deployed their less-lethal weapons.
At the same time, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Trester, a member of SWAT assigned to use lethal force that day, fired a shot with his Glock, members testified.
“After we pushed into the room and confronted Mr. Ketchman, he was standing in the doorway, he lunged at us. He was within six feet at least, there was no cover between us and I did fire,” Trester said.
Two cases against Rodger Ketchman, 33, of Ypsilanti were bound over to circuit court following preliminary examinations Thursday at Washtenaw County’s 14A-1 District Court.
Ketchman initially faced charges of first-degree home invasion, carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent and malicious destruction of a building costing $20,000 or more in damage for the incident on Jan. 13, 2017.
By the conclusion of the Thursday examination, however, he faced 14 new charges related to the encounter with police – seven counts of felony assault and seven counts of resisting, obstructing or assaulting a police officer.
Police and SWAT members described a tense situation in close quarters with an armed Ketchman.
Ketchman listened to the Thursday testimony while occasionally speaking with his attorney and at least once saying “that’s absurd.”
The charge of malicious destruction of property was also changed to a misdemeanor. Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney Blake Hatlem told the court the charge was meant to be for damages of $200 or less.
Pamela Geller, President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), said, "The jihadi’s name is Abdul-Latif Ketchman, a convert, but you will find none of that in news reports. News headlines only refer to his Christian name. A commenter exposed his Facebook page and his actual name."
"Telling victims to bow down before his god, etc., but no connection made by local media. Courts wonder if he is even competent. From what does he suffer? That now-worldwide mental affliction — piety in Islam. The defendant says he is competent…he’s just following the Quran."