GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids police officer’s job is hanging in the balance after video surfaced of him repeatedly punching a man during a March traffic stop.
Grand Rapids Police Department officials announced Tuesday that Drew Rau has been moved from paid leave to unpaid suspension after Internal Affairs found he violated policies.
In video of the March 17 stop, Rau and other officers can be seen pulling Bronquel Brown out of his car when he disobeyed orders to exit the vehicle. Officers used a Taser and pepper spray. Rau is seen punching Brown nearly 30 times. He is also heard using profanity.
Rau, who joined GRPD two years ago, could be fired after a hearing in front of the city’s labor relations officials. No date has been set for that yet, according to city officials.
A neighbor recorded the incident, posted it online and within hours it had thousands of views. Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack told 24 Hour News 8 that even more people are watching GRPD now.
“This is a true test for GRPD (and) a true test for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I hope he is fired and justice is served,” Womack said Tuesday.
In the GRPD body camera footage 24 Hour News 8 obtained, Brown can be heard yelling “I’m not doing nothing” as Rau continues throwing punches.
“I just was shocked that there was still some people in denial that this happens in our neighborhoods,” Womack said.
GRPD officials say Rau violated several policies. The Kent County prosecutor reviewed the case but no charges were filed.
“The prosecutor did not charge the police officer for hitting this man over 21 times while he’s being held down. Prosecutor did not prosecute that police officer for that, but I guarantee this young man is probably going to be prosecuted for being afraid of getting out of the car,” Womack stated.
Brown still faces a felony charge of resisting and obstructing officers.
It’s a case the county commissioner is close to. He was there the night Brown was released from the Kent County jail, helping Brown’s family post bond. Brown spoke exclusively with 24 Hour News 8, explaining that he was not angry but that he believed Rau was in the wrong.
“I believe in our police. I’m not anti-police, I’m just anti-bad cops,” Womack clarified. “He’s a bad cop. He needs to be fired immediately.”
Womack said Brown’s young son was in the back seat during the nightmare that unfolded.
“When you got a 6-year-old son in the backseat and you’re telling an officer, ‘Hey I got my son in the backseat’ and he’s only responding with profanity … a lot of people say follow instructions, but when someone’s yelling at you using profanity it’s very hard to understand those instructions and exactly what they mean,” Womack said. “You could tell somebody the nicest thing in the world but if you put F-bombs in there, how serious are you about this?”
Womack admitted there is more for the community to learn from this incident regarding compliance. Authorities say you should obey officers’ orders and then file complaints later if you think you’ve been mistreated.
“We have some things we have to change in the community, but the police have been getting away with the things they’ve been doing for hundreds and hundreds of years when it comes to African-Americans and this is the generation that’s standing up saying they’re not going no more and they’re armed with a very valuable tool: that cellphone,” Womack said.
Womack said that firing Rau will send a message to the community that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.
“Some of these officers that commit these heinous crimes — and they are crimes whether he gets charged or not; I believe that he should’ve been charged — those that commit these crimes are now knowing that the police department will not be able to stand up for them,” he said.