GRPD: Officer who punched driver faces firing

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police are taking action to oust an officer who repeatedly punched a man during an arrest.

The Grand Rapids Police Department announced Tuesday that Drew Rau has been suspended without pay pending discharge. Sgt. Cathy Williams explained he will next have a termination hearing that will determine whether he actually loses his job. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.

GRPD said an Internal Affairs investigation found Rau, who has been with the department for two years, committed “several violations of department policy.” 

The department said it holds its officers to the highest standards and that Rau’s actions don’t reflect its values.

“When an action by one of our officers is not in line with our standard of service to the community – and the action warrants more than additional training or correction – the officer needs to be held accountable,” Interim Chief David Kiddle said in a statement. “Our department is dedicated to serving the residents and visitors of Grand Rapids with professionalism and integrity at all times. Our community deserves the finest men and women to wear this uniform, and I will do everything I can to deliver on that promise.”

>>“He’s a bad cop”: Commissioner wants Rau fired

Rau was involved in a March 17 traffic stop along California Street NW near National Avenue. GRPD says officers pulled over Bronquel Brown for speeding and he stopped in the driveway of a relative’s home. When Brown refused to get out of his car, officers broke his window and dragged him out. They used pepper spray and a Taser on him, but say he still wasn’t cooperating.

A bystander captured video of one of the officers shouting profanities at Brown and repeatedly punching him in the leg. GRPD says that video and police video shows Rau struck the driver close to 30 times.

A command officer brought the case to the GRPD Internal Affairs Unit the morning after the incident, at which point Kiddle was informed. After he watched video and read reports, he placed Rau on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

At a news conference in March, Kiddle said Rau was “quick to escalate the situation beyond the point that was necessary.”

“We have standards of professional conduct which clearly were not upheld in this situation,” Kiddle said in March. “I will not, nor will any member here at GRPD, accept or tolerate force used beyond that which is necessary to safely make an arrest.”

GRPD also asked Michigan State Police to conduct a criminal investigation. MSP sent the case along to the Kent County prosecutor, who ultimately decided not to pursue charges.

As Brown was released from jail the day after the beating, he told 24 Hour News 8 his whole body was sore.

“I just feel like the police officer was wrong,” he said. “I don’t think officers should do that while somebody’s on the ground, undefendable.”

Despite Rau’s use of force, police say arresting Brown was appropriate. He faces a felony charge of resisting and obstructing officers.

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