Video shows officers’ perspective of BB gun-toting minor

Target 8

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While the city of Grand Rapids continues drafting an ordinance to restrict minors from carrying replica guns in public — Target 8 obtained the body-worn camera video from the latest incident such a ban would aim to prevent.

The newly released video shows the July 4 episode at Ionia Avenue and Williams Street SW from the perspective of the two female police officers who responded to a report of a young man with a gun in Heartside Park.

Calls to 911 described the young man, and one of the officers reported spotting him running on Williams Street Southwest.

A bystander shot video of the incident as it unfolded, but the body-worn cameras show what happened from beginning to end from the officers’ perspectives.

Grand Rapids Police said the two officers did exactly as they were trained, taking no risks in case the gun was real and loaded.

“We want to do this as safely as possible for everyone involved,” said Sgt. John Wittkowski in an interview with News 8 this week. “We’re going to go all-in, secure and then verify whether that gun is fake – a replica – or if it’s real, and the only way to do that is to do it in a safe manner and actually get a hold of (the weapon.)”

About 10 minutes after the officers pulled their guns, the incident was over.

“This is nerve-wracking,” Wittkowski said, referring to the pressure the officers were under at the time. “You’re dealing with a kid. You’re dealing with someone who potentially has a gun. You have a crowd, and then whirling around in the back of your mind is ‘OK, how is the rest of the world going to view this incident?’”

City leaders could not provide a date by which they plan to have the new proposed ordinance ready for discussion and a vote by the city commission.

“We continue to work on the proposed ordinance with various departments and outside agencies to ensure it will be an ordinance that is effective,” said city spokesman Steve Guitar. 

In late July, Grand Rapids officers reported it had confiscated 106 imitation and pneumatic guns since Jan. 1, 2018.

In September 2018, a GRPD officer fired a shot toward a 14-year-old wielding a BB gun. The shot missed the teen. Prosecutors cleared the officer.

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