GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Another video that has surfaced of Grand Rapids police officers drawing down on teens on the streets is drawing concern a year after the department says it instituted a policy to curtail these kinds of interactions.
A man who lives in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood in southwest Grand Rapids became concerned when he saw police on his street pulling guns on kids, so he pulled out his phone.
The man filming the video posted it on Facebook, but did not want to go on camera. But he can be heard in the video after police pulled their weapons on the two boys, ages 15 and 16, around 6 p.m. Monday on Lynch Street north of Burton and east of US-131.
Police would not go on camera, but the department released a statement saying they stopped the boys as they were walking on the street instead of the sidewalks, which violates a city ordinance.
The statement said officers had been assigned to spend extra time in that neighborhood due to the high number of violent crimes and due to consistent gang graffiti that indicates potential violence.
Police say after telling the boys to walk on the sidewalk, the officer asked for their names and identification and the boys refused to provide it, walking away instead.
The officer decided to arrest the teens for refusing to cooperate with a lawful command and told them to stop. When they refused again, the officer grabbed the arm of one of the boys who pulled away and allegedly reached behind his back, leading the officer to draw down on the boys.
“We don’t know the details, Barton, we have a lot of questions here,” said ACLUS attorney Miriam Aukerman. “What we do know is that the GRPD has a history of pulling guns on kids of color.”
It’s been one year since GRPD instituted the so-called “Honestie Policy” that came after police were recorded forcing a shrieking 11-year-old girl into a police car.
The policy called for police to consider using other means than pulling a gun when dealing with minors.
“The GRPD keeps saying it is going to change, going to treat children like children, but this video, from what we can see so far, sure looks like more of the same,” Auckerman said.
Police say one of the boys was taken home after being handcuffed and another was taken to juvenile detention and charged with resisting police.
“Changes in paper policies by the GRPD just haven’t translated into changes on the street, changes our community, changes in the way kids are actually being treated, kids of color, and so it’s really time for some real change,” Aukerman said.
The statement from Grand Rapids police reads:
“This is a good opportunity to remind the community that officers’ actions are determined by the individual they are having contacting with. Officers are trained to pick up on an individual’s cues and escalate and deescalate based on their actions.”
“We also know that had these been white kids walking down the street, this would never have happened,” Aukerman said.
24 Hour News 8 is working to get more information, including body camera footage from GRPD.