Officer Caleb Johnson of the Grand Rapids Police Department pulled his gun on 5 young black children who were walking down the public city road after playing some basketball at their local park. Apparently the young boys were matching descriptions of an armed suspect who was being searched for by the GRPD. Officer Johnson had a body camera on during this incident and thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, the public can now see this shocking video.
Footage from this officer’s body-cam show the young boys startled by the abrupt orders from Johnson as he began interrupting their day with a life-threatening situation. As the boys turned to discover a police officer aiming a gun at them they slowly got to the ground as Johnson had told them, one boy can be heard crying in fear as another exclaimed “I don’t wanna die today, bro.”
After 10 minutes of holding the boys at gunpoint and telling witnesses to go away, the boys are finally told to come to the police cruiser where it would be discovered none of them were armed. Some of the boys allegedly match the description, but this situation was not received well by citizens of Grand Rapids or social communities at large.
This footage of another case of irresponsible and reckless policing directed at young black individuals sparked outrage amongst many who viewed the video. This situation could have escalated into a tragedy very easily given the sudden hostility the GRPD officers introduced to the situation itself by drawing weapons.
While many community members suggested that policy reform is necessary for the GRPD, the police chief said that it is not necessary and that they will be looking into how these situations are handled.
This response from the GRPD has not seemed to have accurately addressed the active problem of policy in handling cases of armed suspects in the future. This response from the Grand Rapids Police Department seems like another Band-Aid solution to a massively widespread internal problem of policing that needs widespread reformation that police departments across America will not commit to.