Chief: Kalamazoo Sgt. gets written reprimand in throat-grabbing incident

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- A Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety sergeant has been reprimanded for violating the department Use of Force Policy in an incident where he grabbed a man by the throat.

The incident happened July 10 in the 700 block of Hawley Street.  According to a department statement, Sgt. Derrick Turner was patrolling the area and approached two men who had an open bottle of liquor sitting on the front porch of a condemned home.

One of the men, Antonio Churchwell, refused to take his hands out of his pocket for Sgt. Turner and resisted, according to the department.

The other man tried to help Churchwell, but then fled the scene.  Turner arrested Churchwell and he was allegedly found to have a bag of crack cocaine.

After other officers arrived as backup, Churchwell's brother, Diante, arrived and allegedly confronted Sgt. Turner. Body camera video shows Diante yelling at Turner and getting into his face.

Turner grabs Diante Churchwell by the throat for about two seconds before moving to his arms to take him into custody.

Warning: Video contains explicit language

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley says that Turner violated the Use of Force Policy by utilizing "a subject control method not taught or recommended", but that Turner was clearly threatened by Diante Churchwell.

A statement from Hadley says that Turner is a "dedicated officer who addresses issues in his neighborhoods, has built relationships with the residents and attempts to make their quality of life better by responding to their complaints and needs. In my meeting with Sgt. Turner he was the consummate professional, accepted responsibility and committed to learning from this incident and moving forward."

Turner has been given a written reprimand.  The chief says that Turner has accepted responsibility for the incident.

Churchwell's father filed complaints with the department Office of Professional Standards.

Chief Hadley says they have watched body camera video with community leaders to help spread word of the facts of the case.

We'll have more coming up on later editions of FOX 17 News.

 

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10 comments

  • steve

    Hey, cops are humans, too. Anytime someone gets in the face of another person like this guy did, the natural reaction of the other might be a reactionary, spontaneous act. Actually, in a way, the guy was lucky. I know of several people who might have taken a different approach.

    • Michael

      I can’t say that I agree with using a throat grab in this situation and it sounds like neither does his department. It was addressed with the officer and the matter is resolved.

      That being said the “Victim” of the throat grab only has himself to blame. Learn how to act and behave in a civilized world and bad things will stop happening to you. He put himself in that situation. He only has himself to blame.

    • sundownkid1024

      In TENNESSEE our overseers would have shot him dead, We are taught to always obey our overseers and never questions any of their demands If our overseers believe we deserve to be choked or take a severe beating we gladly accept it OBEY IS THE KEY TO SURVIVING IN TENNESSE.

  • Jessie

    Looking at the video, this guy should be counting his lucky stars that this police office used restraint. I would have had my weapon draw as he approached. The way people act know days, the police should be using WAY more lethal force.
    You do not want to be handled by the police, then don’t break the law, and do what they say.
    Get this straight, you know why white people dont get this hassle? Because they are smart enough to not mess with the policle. We need to learn from them. Brothers keep your lives together, get a job, take care of your kids, and have some respect for yourselves, only then will we truly be free.
    Eating from the hand of the white man only chains us down.

  • Irving Cryderman

    This officer did nothing wrong. This thug got in his face, he grabbed him and moved him back. If he had kept a hold of his neck then maybe. We must also remember he is a criminal

    • Michael

      I wouldn’t say he did “nothing” wrong. He was wrong, but just in a minor way. Remember – he violated department policy. Being a criminal doesn’t change the standards KDPS has for its officers.

      I agree he almost immediately removed his hand from the neck. He didn’t grab the neck to choke the guy but it’s still not an approved control hold for the level of force the suspect was using.