Video footage has been released to show exactly what happened in Grand Rapids, Mich. when five boys were held at gunpoint by police.
On March 24, five boys between the ages of 12 and 14 were stopped by Officer Caleb Johnson. The boys can be seen having a wide range of reactions as they lay on the ground with their hands on their heads. Some cried. Some pleaded to not be shot. Some tried to comfort their friends.
MLive reports that Johnson received a call that a group of teens in the area were involved in a fight at a nearby basketball court and dropped a revolver. The description he was given was that one of the members of the group was wearing a black and another was wearing a red zip-up hoodie.
Footage from as many as 18 body cameras and eight in-car videos show that detaining and searching the boys took up to 10 minutes. After officers learned they had the wrong group, they released them to their parents.
“The officers didn’t do anything wrong. They acted on articulate facts from a witness moments earlier who said he saw them hand a gun to each other,” Police Chief David Rahinsky said. “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.”
The backlash over the incident, which has surely only been incited further with the release of the footage, has been well-received by the local department. While Rahinsky defends the actions of his officers, he’s open to taking part in the discussion.
“The dialogue was frank, and of great value,” Rahinsky said in a statement. “It reflects the importance that our community places on being actively engaged with their police department.”
Some feel that the detainment of the young group is a sign of the systemic racism that plague many of the police departments in the country. It’s also glaring to see five children no older than 14 at the wrong side of a gun for nothing more than waking down the street. Especially when there’s a constant stream of stories about their peers being gunned down in similar situations.