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Grand Rapids police address recent recorded incidents; officer suspended

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids police addressed two recent incidents where residents recorded police in confrontations with other residents and have suspended one officer as a result.

Interim Police Chief David Kiddle made a presentation to the media Monday at police headquarters.

The first incident addressed took place March 11 on Lynch Avenue SW where an officer is seen pulling his gun on two teens.

Kiddle said the officer stopped the teens after watching them walk down a street where sidewalks were available to use, which is a violation of a Grand Rapids ordinance.

Body camera footage shows the officer explaining why he was stopping the teens and asking them for their names and date of birth. After the teens refused to comply with the officer’s commands, he decided to arrest them.

Kiddle said the officer grabbed one of the teens by the arm and one of them reached behind their back, leading to the officer pulling out his firearm.

“This is a good opportunity to remind the community that officers’ actions are determined by the individual they are having contact with,” Kiddle said. “The officers are trained to pick up on cues and escalate and de-escalate based on the individual’s action.”

Police say one person was taken into custody without further incident, and the other was taken home.

Kiddle said the incident was a “textbook example” of how officers are expected to conduct themselves in a “professional and tacitly safe manner.”

Cle Jackson, president of the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP, says the situation should have never gone as far as it did.

"There was absolutely no need in my opinion," Jackson said. "I think the officer escalated to the point of pulling his sidearm, totally unnecessary."

Jackson said he questions if the teens were racially profiled.

The second incident happened Sunday night on California Street at National Avenue NW.

Kiddle says an officer made a traffic stop for speeding and the vehicle pulled into a driveway, where the driver allegedly failed to provide his name or get out of the vehicle.

Police say the driver then started his vehicle, rolled up the window, started honking the horn and reaching around inside the vehicle. At that point, the officer broke the driver’s window to unlock the door, used pepper spray and removed the driver from the vehicle.

Video shows additional police arriving and using a stun gun, followed by an officer repeatedly striking the driver.

Kiddle said upon reviewing the incident, there were concerns over the actions of an assisting officer. He said the officer appears quick to escalate the situation beyond what was necessary.

“Regardless of the behavior or language, we have standards of professional conduct which clearly were not upheld in this situation,” he said. “I will not, nor will any member here at GRPD accept or tolerate force that is beyond which is necessary to safely make an arrest.”

The officer is on paid administrative leave while the GPRD’s Internal Affairs Unit investigates the situation.

Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack says he's happy an investigation is happening but is concerned about what accountability will be taken.

"We have to come out and admit when somebody that's in our employment has done something wrong," he said. "In my opinion, I see wrong, I see the excessive force and there's no excuse for it."

Womack also said the community needs to understand to cooperate with police officers when they are asked to do things.

The driver involved in the incident wasn’t seriously injured in the incident, and was arrested for outstanding warrants, driving on a suspended license and resisting arrest.

A child in the back seat of the vehicle during the incident wasn't harmed and taken to family members.

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  • Ella

    What are the police supposed to do? Just let the little hoodlums walk away & not follow police directives?
    If a police officer asks you stop, give your name etc, you do it.
    What is wrong with people?

    • Julian Manning

      He told them to walk on the sidewalk and they did as he asked. He had no reason to harass them further as they were doing nothing wrong. They were putting their hands in their pockets because it was minus 5 degrees and they didn’t want frostbite. The Officer should be fired and arrested for assault.

  • Fish

    Let the monkeys in the zoo take care of themselves then. You have kids in gangs that are 12 yet ” there babies and they didnt do nuffin”. Ive had been at the business end of a cops pistol and ya know what? I, myself put ME in that situation because of something stupid i was doing. No body was hurt or injured hell nobody else was around, he felt he was in danger so he did what he had to do. If you do what they ask….. like stopping so they can talk to you, then stop and talk. If you didnt do anything wrong then whats the worry?

    • Common sense

      Both parties are at fault. You definitely need to comply to officers and if you don’t then this will happen. The use of excessive force and profanity is totally unacceptable. Everyone needs to follow the rules, yes even police.

      • sewalker1980@gmail.com

        No. You don’t. Until they are arresting you you still have every right given to you and they are just another citizen. You do not have to give them your name or any identifying information. Also, I question the legality of reaching inside of a vehicle you have not been given permission to enter. Also, I would like to see the dash cam footage of this erratic behavior. Pretty funny how we never see that unless it exonerates the PD. I have respect for the law, I do not have respect for racist thugs with Napoleon Complexes getting to carry weapons and dictate legal passage. The badge says protect and serve what exactly got protected or served in this instance?

    • AO

      Teens were approached for walking in the street when a sidewalk was available? For real? I call b.s. Sounds like someone didn’t like the way they looked and made an issue where there was no issue. I think we should all be free to be left the hell alone unless we are actually doing something wrong.

      I walk in the streets of my neighborhood every day, where sidewalks are available, for various reasons. Never been approached by police asking me for an explanation. Probably because I’m a harmless chunky middle aged white lady?

      • Michael

        257.655 is the state law that says “where sidewalks are provided a pedestrian shall not walk upon the main traveled portion of the highway.”

        Just because you break that law as well doesn’t mean the police can’t enforce the law with someone else.

  • None of your business

    I didn’t know these two kids did not comply. They DID pull their hands out of their pockets. They were doing nothing more than walking in the road. Yet police almost never respond when called for a REAL reason. Or, in the city of GR, they take way too long to respond. These kids were profiled. The COP struck them first. There was no issue with looking like they were reaching for a weapon in ANY way shape or form. The cop drew a gun, plain and simple. He profiled them and used his authority to harass them. If walking in the street is illegal in the city of Grand Rapids, then perhaps the cops should be enforcing this more. Do you see any police officers around doing this? No, you don’t. Simply because he CHOSE these two boys. He had nothing better to do. Get real people. If cops are going to pull their guns and strike and grab a kid, you better have a damn good reason. And if you are going to harass a child for doing something, you better make sure the reason is LEGIT. Meh, this is such crap. I hope their parents take the city to court for excessive force.

    • Michael

      Except it’s not. Sitting at home wondering if your career is over is nothing like a paid vacation.

      Paid leave often turns into unpaid leave or termination. Police departments do this for the community. You can’t put an union employee on unpaid leave without an investigation yet you don’t want to risk letting him work if he should be disciplined or fired.

  • Augster

    My heart goes out to the good people of the non-white community. When we scrutinize and pan police officers for having to deal with utter turds like this, it affects their communities so much more than those of us out in the country or suburbs. If a little redneck punk bastards is walking down my street with the same disregard for the law as these two idiots, I’d ask the law to beat the hell out of them and lock them up! I know MANY black and brown upstanding citizens feel the same way about these hoodlums. I wish I could hear their voices more in the media!

  • Sillyoldme

    We expect accountability from our police force, but certain people in Grand Rapids do not feel that they need to follow rules, laws, or take accountability for their children, themselves or their actions. Seems to once again be a double standard in this town. The first questions here: why aren’t people following requests made by the police, and, why would be driving without a license and not again following police orders be ok?

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