HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A traffic stop in Holland is drawing controversy after a pastor witnessed it and posted videos of the incident questioning the officers’ use of force
The Holland Department of Public Safety posted about the Friday incident on Facebook. The agency explained that a person in the stopped vehicle matched the description of a domestic assault suspect that was involved in an earlier situation involving a gun.
With that intel, officers treated it as a high-risk traffic stop.
They arrested the suspect they were looking for on charges of domestic assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm, in addition to an unrelated arrest warrant.
Officers also arrested, cited and released the driver on an unrelated driving offense.
Reverend Denise Kingdom Grier said she was at the church preparing for prayer with other church leaders when she heard shouts from police in the parking lot.
She said she was shaken when she saw officers still pointing rifles at each person, even after they were on the ground.
“No one should have a rifle pointed to their head when they’re in a defenseless position,” Rev. Kingdom Grier said. “So, if that is their practice — black or white or any other race — I take issue with that practice.”
Things became more personal for her when the second person in the car emerged. It was her 23-year-old nephew. He was later released without any charges.
“The fact that it’s my nephew exacerbates it on a personal level, but I really want to be clear that I’m outraged by the level of what I perceive as injustice,” she said.
Kingdom Grier said she understands the dangers of a traffic stop of this kind and that she isn’t questioning if police followed policy. Instead, she’s wondering if those protocols need to be re-examined.
“A triggering moment for me was when the officer said to my nephew and the other young lady, ‘You’re free to go,’ because they are not free, they are traumatized,” she said.
Maple Avenue Ministries will host a community conversation on Monday at 5:30 p.m. There will be a rally at the church at 7 p.m.
After the original Facebook post, Holland Department of Public Safety commented, saying:
“For clarification, when there is a suspect of a crime where a gun was used, and it is believed that the suspect and gun are in the car, we consider that a high risk stop. This stop was handled as any high risk stop would be where all occupants are removed at gunpoint until the gun is recovered and it is considered safe. Race doesn’t change that, gender doesn’t change that, we are consistent with handling a high risk situation that way.”