Grand Rapids’ police chief says it was “inappropriate” for some of his officers to hold an 11-year-old girl at gunpoint and handcuff her outside her home while searching for an attempted murder suspect.
At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Chief David Rahinsky said hearing the girl’s screams on bodycam video made him “physically nauseous” and that the situation was “a discredit to the way the community is being served.”
The incident involving 11-year-old Honestie Hodges, happened Dec. 6 on the city’s northwest side as police were searching for Honestie’s aunt, who was wanted for allegedly stabbing her younger sister a few blocks away. Honestie’s aunt, Carrie Manning, is a 40-year-old white woman.
Bodycam video played during the news conference shows officers searching for Manning confront Honestie, who was leaving her home to walk to the store. The officers can be seen telling her to walk backward with her hands up and then handcuffing her, patting her down and putting her in the back of a police cruiser as she screamed wildly.
“The screams of the 11-year-old, they go to your heart,” Rahinsky said after a portion of the video was shown. “You hear the mother yelling from the steps, ‘That’s my child!’ That’s our community’s child. That’s someone who lives in Grand Rapids. That’s someone who should feel safe running to an officer.”
When asked to describe his immediate reaction to seeing the video, Rahinksy said it was “literally physical” and hearing Honestie’s screams made his stomach turn.
“To say anything less than that would be insincere,” he added.
Rahinsky said while he recognizes what’s it’s like in the heat of the moment and dealing with the unknown as a police officer, he could see the disconnect in how Honestie, as an 11-year-old, was treated.
“The juvenile is treated the same way you would have treated any adult,” he said. “And when you’re dealing with an 11-year-old, it’s inappropriate. So, as an agency, we’re going to have some tough conversations that include the community. It goes to the heart of what we’re trying to accomplish with (consulting firm) 21st Century Policing.”
Rahinsky said the incident, which is under internal investigation, means GRPD has work to do.
“We need to look at everything, from our hiring to our training to our supervision,” he said. “What we’re going to look at is when is it appropriate for discretion to override practice and protocol in dealing with an 11-year-old.”
The chief added that the department was being “very introspective” in the wake of the incident.
“If an officer can point to policy, or can point to training, or point to hiring and say, ‘This is what I was told, this is how I was taught, this is consistent with practice,’ then we’ve got a problem,” he said. “And what I just said is accurate. We do have a problem.”
Rahinsky said he plans to meet with Honestie’s family sometime Tuesday to further discuss what happened.