Suspect Arrested In Hit-And-Run Death Of Wayne County Sheriff's Sergeant

August 16, 2018 - 10:23 am
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WESTLAND (WWJ) - The driver wanted in the hit-and-run death of a Wayne County Sheriff's sergeant is now in police custody.

Sheriff Benny Napoleon said a 47-year-old Detroit man was arrested in Garden City around 5:30 a.m. Thursday in connection with the death of Sgt. Lee Smith. The vehicle involved in the crash was located about a half-hour later on Michigan Avenue in Inkster.

"We have received a tremendous amount of help from the community. It was information that we received that led to the arrest," Napoleon said. "And the investigation after the arrest led us to the car."

Sgt. Lee Smith
Sgt. Lee Smith (Photo: Wayne County Sheriff’s Office)

According to investigators, Smith was off duty at around 10 a.m. Tuesday, jogging westbound on the shoulder of Hines Drive, when a Buick Enclave traveling eastbound veered across the roadway and struck him. The vehicle dragged the sergeant a short distance, never stopping, before driving away from the scene. 

Surveillance footage from local businesses caught the suspect's vehicle, clearly damaged from the collision, fleeing the scene. 

Napoleon declined to say if investigators believe the suspect may have struck Smith intentionally.

"I don't want you to get in your mind that there is some target there. We received some information that we have to look at," he said. "At this point in time, we don't know one way or the other, but we have to check the information out."

Police expect to give the case to prosecutors Friday for charges.

Smith, a 26-year veteran of the force, is being remembered as a hero. He was honored with a Westland Police Department Certificate of Merit for helping evacuate people from a burning senior citizens center. A married father of a 28-year-old son, he was set to retire from the force in about a week. 

Visitation and funeral services for Smith are currently being arranged but are tentatively set for Aug. 23.