A Michigan police officers who handcuffed a terrified 11-year-old girl at gunpoint will not face disciplinary action.
According to the Washington Post, this decision was the result of an internal investigation launched after the incident happened earlier this month.
Bodycam footage showed the Grand Rapids officers accosting Honestie Hodges on Dec. 6 while they were conducting a search for her aunt, 41-year-old Carrie Manning, who they believe stabbed her younger sister. Police say this was a case of “mistaken identity” despite the fact that Manning is 30 years older than Honestie and is a white woman.
In the 45-second video released by police last week, Honestie approaches the police officers with her arms raised in the air, while one of the officers pointed a gun at her. One can hear her mother, Whitney Hodges, yelling to the police that she is only an 11-year-old child. You can also hear Honestie screaming in terror.
“I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve never got in trouble by the Grand Rapids Police. I used to want to be a Grand Rapids police officer, but ever since that happened, I want nothing to do with them,” the 11-year-old told WXMI News.
Her mother added that she was utterly terrified while she witnessed the incident.
“I couldn’t do anything about that,” said Hodges. “That just hurts me the most about that, that’s my child, I couldn’t do anything about that. I couldn’t do anything or die trying, that’s so messed up to me.”
While the officer won’t be punished, Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky admits that watching the video was hard to watch.
“The juvenile was treated the same way we would have treated any adult, and when you’re dealing with an 11-year-old, it’s inappropriate,” said Rahinsky.
“The screams of the 11-year-old, they go to your heart, you hear the mother yelling from the steps ‘that’s my child,’ and that’s our community’s child. That’s someone who lives in Grand Rapids, that’s somebody who should feel safe running to an officer.”
The Post wrote that GRPD hopes to prevent similar incidents in the future with the creation of the “Honestie policy,” which will require officers to get to know the kids on their beats by interacting with them at community programs. That, and lieutenants trained in “cultural competency” and de-escalation techniques will be added to patrol shifts.
However, Black community leaders are still furious with the outcome of the investigation.
The Rev. Jerry Bishop of LifeQuest Ministries told Grand Rapids news station WOOD-TV, “We are dismayed that there would even be the possibility of no disciplinary action on behalf of an officer, especially since the process of investigation and discipline is totally controlled by the Grand Rapids Police Department.”