A man walked up to a line of cops dressed in riot gear during a protest in Michigan Saturday night and stood maybe 15 feet from them, then pointed his finger at one of the cops while saying something.
The gesture apparently made the cop fear for his life because he responded by walking up to him and shooting him with pepper spray. Another cop then shot him a close range with a tear gas canister.
The incident was captured on video which went viral and has led to another internal investigation but the cops have not been identified. The cops were all wearing helmets with face shields, making them unidentifiable which tends to make cops even more violent than usual. This is evident in all the protests taking place across the country.
The video is only 13 seconds and ends as soon as the man is shot with the tear gas canister. Demonstrators say the protest was peaceful but then the cops escalated the situation by firing tear gas, which turned the protest into a riot.
Local media was unable to determine the identity of the victim to interview him.
According to Fox 17:
Witness James Curley says he witnessed the whole thing.
“Some people were lighting fireworks, that were just going straight up, because we have a point to make,” Curley said. “Black Lives Matter. Police brutality needs to stop.”
Curley said the video was recorded by his friend Dakota Spoelman, who is giving us permission to use it. The two do not know the man shown in the video.
“Walked up to the line of police, to express his freedom of speech,” Curley said. “The cop stepped up to him and pepper sprayed him. Completely no threat after that. DOn’t know what’s going on. They shot him, it looked like they shot him, from the chest to the head with some type of flash grenade.”
Curley says this is exactly the type of action being protested.
“After that, that’s when things started escalating,” Curley said. “Police started shooting off more of those flash grenades at everybody there. That’s when they started rioting.”
WOOD TV interviewed a “deescalation expert” who said that shooting the man with tear gas after the initial close range pepper spray blast was overkill.
“It’s unacceptable,” James Howard, a deescalation instructor and former police officer, said in reaction to the video.
Howard spent close to 36 years as a police officer in Norfolk Virginia. He was trained by the FBI and served as a team leader with his department. These days, he teaches deescalation tactics in churches.
“The officer should have been pulled off the street immediately,” Howard said after watching the video. “I mean, you had an escalation, you (the officer) should be moving away. The guy walks in with the pepper spray, sometimes they takes a few seconds to really sink in and when it does, this guy (the civilian) would be leaving for sure.”
Howard said the use of pepper spray should have been the end of it.
“I do see him (the civilian) turn back around toward the officers, but I don’t see him running toward the officers or making an aggressive move,” he commented. “You would never fire, no, not at that range. I’m surprised the guy didn’t go to the ground.”
Despite the over-the-top response from Grand Rapid cops, protesters were still insistent that Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne join them for a march which he agreed to do Wednesday afternoon.
The Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday also approved the creation of a new Community Policing Advisory Council to improve the relationship between cops and the community but local black community leaders believe it is all talk as usual.
Cle Jackson, president of the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP, feels it’s just more of the same.
“My gut reaction is that this seems like the same old, same old,” said Cle Jackson, president of the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP. “I would ask what’s new, what’s different?”