Death of Detroit Police officer shot in 1972 ruled a homicide after his death 45 years later

Posted at 5:48 PM, Apr 18, 2018

"We were investigating drug sales on the street," said Retired Detroit Deputy Police Chief James Younger whose partner was shot in 1972 by a man who was never arrested for the crime. 

The shooting left Detroit Police Officer Donald Kimbrough paralyzed from the waist down and he died December 7, 2017, from medical complications that resulted from the decades old shooting. 

"With the knowledge that he was shot and never fully recovered, the manner is homicide," said Dr. Bernardino Pacris from the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Officer who conducted an autopsy on Kimbrough and recovered an oxidized, deformed bullet from Kimbrough's back. 

Younger said doctors could not remove the bullet without killing Kimbrough because of where it was located. 

Sergeant Todd Eby of Detroit's Homicide Task Force has been assigned to solving Officer Kimbrough's murder. 

It happened August 25, 1972, in an alley near a methadone clinic that was located at John R and Belmont.

Kimbrough, Younger and another officer, Donald Hughes, were investigating drug activity in the area when they heard gunshots. 

Kimbrough and Hughes took off running to the area where witnesses said men were shooting while Younger began to navigate their vehicle around traffic to get to the location. 

Kimbrough and Hughes spotted one man holding a long gun and ordered him to place the weapon on the ground. 

Moments later, another man who was sitting in the driver's seat of a green Lincoln Continental that was parked nearby, rolled his window down and opened fire on Kimbrough and Hughes. The two officers returned fire, but Kimbrough had been shot. 

The man who had the long gun picked it back up off the ground and raced to hop into the green Lincoln Continental. Both men escaped.

The vehicle they fled in is described as a green 1968 Lincoln Continental with a black vinyl top. It's unclear if the car was a two-door or four-door. 

A partial license plate may be GA- 2--.

The shooter was described as a white man 25 - 30-years-old with shoulder-length black hair, a thick black mustache and long bushy sideburns. 

Police did recover the shooter's .32 caliber Colt semi-automatic pocket pistol. A man found it in his yard.  

"Don was a good policeman. A good person and very energetic person. We spent a lot of time together not only on duty, but also off duty," said Younger who retired as a Detroit Police Chief and now teaches Criminal Justice at Wayne County Community College. 

If he's alive, Kimbrough's shooter could be in his seventies. But Younger, Eby, and family and friends of Donald Kimbrough believe it's not too late for someone to help solve the case by identifying a suspect. 

"Where's man's humanity towards man," said Younger. "If you have the information, come forth."

Kimbrough leaves behind one son.

Anyone with any information is urged to call Detroit’s Homicide Task Force at 313-596-5628.