Charges dropped against man whose arrest drew criticism of GRPD

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Charges have been dropped for the man whose arrest at a Grand Rapids McDonald’s in September was caught on camera and prompted an internal investigation.

Police arrested a man at the location on 28th Street near Woodland Mall on Sept. 3. The interaction was captured on Facebook Live and shared across several social media platforms.

Police say they were originally called to the area for a break-in at a business on 29th Street. They say they initiated contact with the 22-year-old man, who News 8 is choosing not to name because he is not charged, at the nearby McDonald’s after recognizing a backpack similar to one spotted at the scene.

The Facebook video, taken by employees of the restaurant, captures a portion of what happened next. The video shows the man kneeling on the ground as multiple officers stood near their vehicles with their weapons pointed at him. Employees inside the McDonald’s drive-thru can be heard yelling to police that they have the wrong person. The employees in the video say the man police have their guns pointed toward is just an employee who was picking up his check.

Ultimately, the man was arrested and charged with resisting and obstructing and malicious destruction of police property for damage police say he caused to a squad car.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said the man was never charged with breaking and entering because there was not evidence to report it.

Becker said after a preliminary hearing where a judge heard testimony from witnesses and detectives, the judge threw out all the charges.

The man in the video is Black. Many online called the arrest racial profiling.

“The officers have every right to approach somebody and talk to them and try to investigate a crime. But there’s a gray area — where does somebody feel they’re arrested, or maybe they’re not free to leave. And taking everything into consideration, this was a close call,” Becker said. “Nothing ever turned up in terms of the (breaking and entering). The damage to the car was fairly minimal. There’s a small bend to it. We felt it would be best at this point in time not to proceed on these charges, airing on the side of caution.”

Becker said that while the man may not have been tied to the break-in, that does not necessarily mean police were in the wrong.

“The police officers at the scene are responding to a quick developing situation and I tell my kids, the police on the scene have a lot of discretion in terms of detaining and holding on while investigating. So if you interfere in anyway, even if you’re not involved in another felony, you don’t necessarily have a right to do whatever the heck you want when a police officer is trying to investigate or trying to do their job,” Becker said. “There is no bright line. Everyone wants to know when can you do this and when can’t you do this? Every case is a very factual situation, and that doesn’t mean police have a right to just stop people at random either, but they are given some discretion.”

News 8 reached out to the family of the man who was arrested for comment but did not hear back. The Grand Rapids Police Department declined comment as an internal investigation into the arrest remains underway.

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