Police defend controversial detention

Grand Rapids police chief describes video of young teens being held at gunpoint "gut-wrenching", but says officers acted properly after receiving report of suspect with gun.

(WOOD) Newly released police body camera video shows the tense moments when Grand Rapids Police Department officers detained a group of five black boys at gunpoint as they searched for an armed suspect.

The boys, ages 12 through 14, had left the Salvation Army Kroc Center on South Division Avenue after playing basketball and were heading home.

The video from Officer Caleb Johnson’s body camera shows a boy dribbling a basketball on the sidewalk when Johnson stops his police cruiser, opens his car door and points a gun at the boys on the city sidewalk.

“Guys, get on the ground. Keep your hands out. Hey, come over here, keep your hands where I can see them and get on the ground,” the officer says. He orders them to the ground several more times, before calling in backup. All the children are face down on the sidewalk as another police siren sounds.

One of the boys is heard wailing and crying.

The March 24 incident has sparked calls for personal apologies from the officers involved and a possible GRPD policy change from community groups and some parents.

Grand Rapids Police Department Chief David Rahinsky and Mayor Rosalynn Bliss have apologized for the incident. However, Rahinsky said his officers acted professionally.

Chief Rahinsky said they’re committed to improving community relations with those they protect and serve.

“Issues are going to occur,” He said. “People who have lived in comparable cities will tell you how safe we are, comparatively speaking. That being said, are there issues that need to be addressed? Yes.”

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