Community organizers and parents in Grand Rapids, Mich. are demanding some changes after five African-American boys were held at gunpoint by police for matching a description.
The incident happened on March 24, but body camera footage of what transpired has just come to light. The video captures a perfect storm of what started as a dispatch call about a fight and ended with someone’s mother crying.
Cops were called to the scene after neighbors complain about a group of males fighting outside, one of them possibly having a gun. The police questioned a witness who told them what the men wearing and described what the suspected gun carrier was wearing as well. Armed with this information, the police essentially pulled up on the first group of Black males they saw.
However, instead of approaching them in a civic manner, one of the officers pulled over, opened his door, pointed his gun at the group and demanded they get on the ground. Two of the boys immediately obliged while the other three stood there confused, insisting that they didn’t do anything wrong and were coming back from playing basketball. Concerned neighbors and even relatives began to walk out onto their front porches to see what was happened. They were all instructed to go back inside.
The officers on the scene then called for back-up as the five unarmed boys remained on the ground, face down. When back-up arrived, the boys were stood up only to be handcuffed and detained for 10 minutes. After searching and questioning them, officers realized that the kids were not lying and were nowhere near the person they thought they were looking for. The officers then called the boys’ parents to come pick them up.
Naturally, the parents were frustrated upon learning their kids had just been held at gunpoint and arrested for absolutely nothing.
Video captured the officers attempting to explain why they had to pull out guns and arrest some innocent teenagers, saying “we’re just doing out job.”
Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky and Mayor Rosalynn Bliss apologized for the event, but of course, they still have the officers’ back.
“The officers didn’t do anything wrong,” said Rahinsky to reporters. “They acted on articulate facts from a witness moments earlier who said he saw them hand a gun to each other. I think when the community sees what we’ve seen — with the body worn camera footage; I think they’ll have a different opinion. I respect their emotion. I think what we’re hearing is a lot of grief and frustration to systemic issues.”