While the police say they were looking for someone who tossed, or was in possession of, a revolver the actions of these police officers are drawing much deserved criticism. According to Mlive:
Video footage released by the Grand Rapids Police Department shows at least eight officers responded to detain five unarmed black youths March 24 after a report of a fight at basketball courts nearby.
The videos show one of the detained youths wailing and crying as he lay on the ground with his hands stretched above his head. Officers drew their weapons on the youths because they had received a report that one of them might be armed.
“Can you please put the gun down?” one of the boys asked.
Another youth is heard saying, “I do not want to die, bro.”
The youths try to tell the officers that they have video on their phones of what happened, as one of the boys continues to cry, “Don’t shoot me.”
“We are not about to die we didn’t do nothing,” another of the boys says to try and comfort him.
Officers attempted to comfort the youths as well, though they had their guns drawn.
“Calm down, calm down, it’ll be alright,” Officer Caleb Johnson said. “They’ll give you directions, OK?”
The families of five black youth said they were unfairly singled out and held at gunpoint after a disturbance at the Kroc Center.
Johnson was the officer who found the group of five friends walking down Francis Avenue near Melville Street.
Johnson was looking for a group of teens that included a male wearing all black with a black backpack, and another male wearing a red top and a black and red Adidas zip-up jacket – descriptions given by a witness to another officer near the Kroc Center minutes after police responded to a report of a fight about 7:15 p.m. on the basketball courts.
The witness said he saw the male drop a revolver.
Ten minutes later when Johnson found the group of five youths on Francis Street, Johnson got out of the car with his weapon drawn.
Standing behind the door of his vehicle, Johnson said to the group, “Guys, get on the ground.”
Confused, some of the youths did not immediately get on the ground – and so Johnson repeated the order.
“Hey, get over here,” Johnson said, motioning with his arm. “Keep your hands where I can see them and get on the ground.”
As other officers arrive on the scene, the youths were directed to stand up one at a time and walk backward toward the police with their hands on their heads. Once they reached the officers, video footage shows the boys kneeling to the ground and then being handcuffed.
Detaining all five youths took about 10 minutes, and officers kept their guns drawn the entire time.
After police determined that the five youths were in the wrong place at the wrong time, the boys waited in the back of police cruisers for their parents to arrive. All parties cooperated – but the parents were upset.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean no disrespect, but you all have to understand that’s my baby,” said Shawndryka Moore, mother of one of the boys, crying as she stood outside of the police cruiser with her son inside. “We don’t deal with police. I don’t have charges. We don’t do this. All this stuff that goes on in this world – I worry about my kids every day. That’s why I don’t let them go nowhere.”
This is the world we live in today. Where fights on basketball courts could have guns, where people call the police with false (or mistaken) information and the police use a high level of aggression on anyone who comes close to matching that description. There is no one person or group to blame here. This is a problem many years in the making by all aspects of society. Thankfully no one was shot, no kids lives ruined and all parties went home.
Of course the police never did find the man who had a gun.