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 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.
Video 24 Hour News 8 obtained through the Freedom of Information Act Friday shows a man describing two kids allegedly involved in a large fight– one wearing black and the other wearing red and black. The man says one of them dropped a gun. “They just walked down here not even five minutes ago,” the man said.
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.
Standing from his car door with gun pointed, Johnson talks to another officer about what to do next. Johnson can be heard telling the wailing child to calm down, saying it will be alright.
Johnson tells a woman to go back inside at one point.
“You’ll be alright, you’ll be alright. They’re going to have you, they’ll have some directions for you in a moment, just stay put, OK? They’ll let you know what to do,” Johnson tells one of the boys.
One by one, the boys eventually get up from the sidewalk with their hands on their head and march down to a police cruiser down the street.
Officers later determined none of the children were armed.