After Detroit 2-year-old killed, father still waits for stronger crackdown on freeway shootings

Posted at 10:38 PM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 22:38:57-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Nine months ago, 2-year-old Brison Christian was senselessly shot and killed on a Detroit freeway.

Brison's father Brian Christian says each and every highway shooting since has brought a painful and heartbreaking reminder of his loss and how little has changed.

Christian says he grieves the loss of his son every day.

Brison was an amazing child with a smile that would light up a room. But his life was cut short last June when someone opened fire on his parents’ truck as they drove down I-75 at McNichols Road.

“I believe to this day, a lot of people’s hearts are with our family trying to help us get over it,” Christian said.

Police are calling the incident a case of alleged mistaken identity.

The tragedy sparked outrage and prompted the Detroit Police Department to launch "Operation Brison," an initiative to end freeway shootings collaboratively.

Nearly 30 agencies joined in initiative including the Southfield and Dearborn police departments.

“I want to thank the chiefs from around this region for coming together today,” Detroit Police Department Chief James White said in June of 2021.

But since last June, Christian admits he’s been discouraged by lack of progress, despite use of cameras from the Michigan Department of Transportation to solve crimes and a state police presence on highways.

In 2021, Michigan State Police statistics showed 67 freeway shootings across metro Detroit. Five of those shootings were fatal and 51 of them happened in Detroit.

While 2022 numbers weren’t immediately available, our team at WXYZ.com has tracked at least a dozen highway shootings in metro Detroit so far this year.

State police have jurisdiction on all Michigan freeways.

Retired MSP Inspector Ellis Stafford says problems can strike at any time.

“I’ve known guys that got shot standing next to a police officer because they had a beef," he said. "I’ve known troopers that got into a shooting right in front of them, next to a fully marked patrol car."

Stafford now works for the nonprofit Detroit Crime Commission to help police overcome obstacles and find better solutions.

He points out that no agency or organization can stop crimes without support from the community.

Both state police and Detroit police were unable to to talk on camera and had no immediate statistics to show the impact of their operation.

Nearly 30 agencies remain a part of Operation Brison and Detroit Police say they will continue to prioritize safety on highways.

Despite their best efforts, Christian says there’s still a void that can't be filled.

Ongoing trauma has left Christian unable to work and avoiding the interstate where Brison’s killer opened fire as their family drove home from basketball practice.