GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The interim chief of the Grand Rapids Police Department on Thursday defended the actions of officers who arrested a 12-year-old black boy, saying they were professional as they handcuffed the boy and put him in the back of a cruiser.
Interim Police Chief David Kiddle said the officers appropriately used the discretion afforded them in the department’s Youth Interaction Policy, handcuffing the boy so he wouldn’t run away and cause a larger problem. He said their actions were meant to calm the situation, and that’s what happened.
“That policy gives that officers guidance and discretion on how to deal with youth. Primarily, treat kids like kids, like they should be treated. I think this policy was followed,” Kiddle said at an afternoon press conference. “And this policy certainly does not say do not intervene in any violent acts or criminal acts being committed by youth. So I think our officers were very calm, respectful, treated this youth as he should have been treated.”
But the child’s father says police violated his son’s rights because of the color of his skin.
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The arrest of 12-year-old Car’reion Baker happened Saturday afternoon near his home in the on Neland Avenue SE north of Franklin Street.
Police said officers were in the area after getting reports of a large fight involving 15 to 20 people, though they didn’t find that when they arrived.
As police were leaving, one officer spotted Car’reion chasing a man while carrying a stick. In body camera video released at the press conference, the officer can be heard telling Car’reion repeatedly to stop and then calling for backup on his radio.
When the officer approached the boy, Car’reion fell, throwing the stick away. At that point, the video shows, the officer grabbed Car’reion’s arms. Other officers arrived and the boy was soon handcuffed.
Bodycam video shows Car’reion kicked back at an officer’s shins — Car’reion told 24 Hour News 8 he did it because he was scared — and that he continued to struggle as he was led to the cruiser.
“Bud, just relax, OK. We can’t figure out any of this with you just yelling and kicking at us, OK?” an officer can be heard saying in the video.
In the video, Car’reion can be heard telling officers that the man was bothering girls in the neighborhood and he was trying to get him to stop.
But speaking to 24 Hour News 8 earlier this week, Car’reion’s family members said that the man involved was the boy’s adult cousin and that the two were just playing. The man, who would only identify himself as Mo, told 24 Hour News 8 he was not a victim but said he didn’t approach officers at the time to explain the situation because his general policy is not to speak to police.
At the press conference, Kiddle said officers still hadn’t spoken with Mo.
Kiddle said the boy’s father has filed an Internal Affairs complaint.
After the chief’s presentation, the boy’s father Carroll Baker told 24 Hour News 8 that he wants to see changes in the culture of GRPD.
“If I go to East Grand Rapids and I see a little white kid chasing his big brother with a stick, I can make a citizen’s arrest, say, ‘Oh, it look like he beating his big brother with a stick?’ No, I can’t do that,” Baker said. “We tired of it, we all should be tired of it.”
The father says his son has been traumatized.
“When it was time for him to go home, he started crying and said, ‘Dad, I want to go home with you.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because I’m scared of the police again,'” Baker said. “When he walk down the street, he say, ‘Daddy, they’re gonna mess with me again.’ That’s what my 12-year-old son got to go through. My son got ADHD. They didn’t tell you all that, they didn’t put that in the video.”
Car’reion is being charged with disorderly fighting, a 90-day misdemeanor. At the press conference, Kiddle said that considering the child’s youth, “I don’t see it’s going to change his life.”