GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who was pepper-sprayed and hit with a police flashbang at nearly point-blank range on the night of the downtown Grand Rapids riot is suing the city and two police officers.
The attorneys representing Sean Hart and his fiancée Tiffany Guzman filed an excessive force and police misconduct lawsuit against the city of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Police Officer Phillip Reinink and an unidentified officer in federal court. The lawsuit seeks $75,000.
The suit says Hart and his fiancée were driving around downtown Grand Rapids when the riot broke out. At one point, Hart found himself near a police line set up at the intersection of Fulton Street and Sheldon Avenue. Hart asked police where to turn when three GRPD officers approached the vehicle and pointed a loaded weapon at them and yelled to turn left. After following the police’s instruction, Hart made a U-turn and parked on Fulton Street about 50 feet before the intersection.
According to the lawsuit, Hart got out of his vehicle because he was upset about how the gun was pointed at him and his fiancé. Then without warning the unidentified officer sprayed Hart with mace then Reinink fired a canister, nearly point-blank at him. The canister hit Hart in the shoulder.
A video of the incident was posted online and within days had millions of views.
The timeline of events released by Kent County prosecutors differs slightly from the lawsuit.
After an Internal Affairs Unit investigation, the police department suspended Reinink for two days without pay. The other officer was not disciplined.
Kent County Prosecutor’s Office declined to bring charges against Reinink.
The suit argues the GRPD officers used excessive force and illegally threatened and assaulted Hart and Guzman. The attorneys say the officers’ punishments are unacceptable and the police department must be held accountable for officer conduct.