BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kent County sheriff’s deputy is back on the job and was never criminally charged after throwing punches and pulling a loaded gun during an off-duty brawl in a crowded mobile home park, then repeatedly lying about it to deputies from his own department, according to records obtained by Target 8.
“A bunch of guys out here, they’re fighting,” a 911 caller told dispatchers. “Now they’re throwing bottles all over the place. Some guy just had a frickin’ gun. There’s kids out here playing.”
Deputy Kenyatta Weaver Jr., 25, who joined the department about three years ago, was not arrested that night, even though a responding deputy told him he likely would be and that he could face a felony charge.
Weaver was later suspended without pay for four weeks and is now under a “last-chance” agreement, sheriff’s officials said. He has returned to duty as a patrol deputy.
“He’s definitely in the wrong profession,” said Michael Svoboda, who witnessed the brawl and captured it on cellphone video. “He’s there to serve and protect and de-escalate problems, not start them.”
He said he provided a copy of the video to sheriff’s investigators. He had no idea one of the combatants was an off-duty deputy until Target 8 told him. Svoboda also captured video of when deputies caught up with Weaver.
“There were children out there playing,” Svoboda said. “That’s where our park is for the kids. There was nothing out but kids out that day, playing.”
**Editor’s note: Audio has been removed from the video below of the fight due to profanity.
911 CALLER: ‘I HEARD HIM LOAD THE WEAPON’
The brawl broke out on June 8 in the Maplewood Mobile Home Park near South Division Avenue and 68th Street in Byron Township.
The off-duty deputy, wearing a white tank top and blue Nike shorts, had shown up with three other men at the home of a relative who was kicking out her ex-boyfriend, reports show.
“I shoved my kids in the house and got them inside,” a 911 caller told dispatchers. “There’s so many people out here right now.”
“Is the weapon on him right now?” the dispatcher asked.
“Yeah, I heard him load the weapon,” the caller answered.
Neighbors told deputies that the ex-boyfriend had been there twice earlier in the day and had threatened the woman.
Cellphone video, taken after the gun was put away, shows one of the men with the off-duty deputy smashing what appears to be bottles in the street. The bottles were among the ex-boyfriend’s belongings.
The video shows the same man with the deputy throwing the first punch at the ex-boyfriend, followed by a punch thrown by the deputy, who then chased the ex-boyfriend around a parked vehicle. The deputy threw at least one other punch. The ex-boyfriend punched back.
The fight lasted about 30 seconds.
DEPUTY CHANGED SHIRTS, HID GUN, LIED
When deputies arrived with flashing overhead lights, they spotted a silver car in front of a mobile home.
According to a report: “The silver car speeds away from the scene and the deputies continue after it. The deputies close the distance and the vehicle comes to a stop and then continues for a short distance” before stopping.
They ordered the four men out of the car, one at a time, at gunpoint next to the mobile home park’s playground, according to reports.
Dashcam video obtained by Target 8 through a public records request shows responding deputies recognized the driver.
“You know who that is, right?” a deputy said. “It’s Kenyatta.”
By that time, Weaver had changed into a thin blue line shirt. Deputies found his white tank top on the car floor.
They also found the handgun, with 13 rounds in the magazine and another in the chamber, under his car seat. Sheriff’s officials said it was not his service weapon.
“Weaver is placed in the rear of (Deputy) Donovan’s cruiser, where he continues to lie to deputies,” an internal affairs report obtained by Target 8 reads. “He also is seen on video talking to himself, reiterating the lies he told to deputies.”
Target 8 obtained a transcript of Weaver’s videotaped conversations as he sat in the back seat of a patrol car.
“The guys that were fighting took off,” Weaver told a deputy. “We were just watching it, we were watching it.”
That’s before Weaver knew there was cellphone video.
When asked where the gun was, he said: “There’s no gun. The people that were fighting took off. The people who were fighting took off.”
He kept talking, to himself, even as he sat alone in the back seat.
Then, according to reports, the off-duty deputy coached another suspect who had joined him in the back seat.
“Nah, we weren’t fighting,” he said. “I promise you, the gun was never pulled. No, they were fighting, we were breaking it up.”
“Say I never pointed it,” Weaver told him.
Weaver later admitted to pulling the gun, not waving it, but said he did it only after believing the ex-boyfriend might get a gun. No other weapons were found.
“Am I going to jail tonight?” he asked a deputy. “You can be honest with me.”
“I’m assuming so,” the deputy responded.
Instead, Weaver was allowed to go home.
AUTHORITIES: WEAVER DIDN’T GET SPECIAL TREATMENT
Sheriff’s officials said he didn’t get special treatment.
“Absolutely not,” Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt told Target 8. “Kenyatta was treated like any other citizen at that point in time. The decision was the situation was not necessary to make an arrest.”
Target 8 tried to reach Weaver through the sheriff’s department, but officials there said he declined to comment.
In an exchange of emails obtained by Target 8, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker told sheriff’s investigators he could have charged the deputy with misdemeanor assault, but the victim refused to cooperate. Nobody involved in the fight was criminally charged.
“It’s hard to proceed on an assault and battery charge when you have victims who don’t want to participate in the court proceedings,” Becker told Target 8.
He said he also looked at the possibility of charging Weaver with brandishing a handgun.
“Brandishing requires some sort of showing, show of force, pointing it around, there’s no evidence he did that,” Becker said.
He said his office rarely files charges of lying to police in misdemeanor cases, having done so only 14 times over the last two years. Charges are more likely if they continue to lie or if the lies lead police to pursue false leads, he said.
“People lie to the police all the time initially,” Becker said. “Once they come clean at the scene, most of the time we don’t charge.
“In terms of criminal cases, this is right in line with what we usually do,” he said. “No special treatment from our end. None whatsoever.”
After an internal investigation, the sheriff’s department suspended Weaver for four weeks without pay.
“Although Kenyatta is in fact still working for us, we were not happy with the actions,” the undersheriff said. “They fell short of the standards we expect of all of our officers, but it did fall short of terminating his employment.”
“This was a very serious incident that we did not take lightly, and that is the reason for the substantial unpaid suspension that Deputy Weaver received as well as he’s on a last-chance agreement,” the undersheriff said.
The prosecutor said the incident could lead to trouble if the deputy is ever called as a witness in a future criminal case. A defense attorney could question his integrity.
“Could be a factor, could be a factor in the future most definitely,” Becker said.