Police officers who traumatized an 11-year-old Black girl by handcuffing her at gunpoint and detaining her in a squad car followed procedure, according to the department.
“No discipline will be issued,” Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky said in a statement.
Rahinsky portrayed a different demeanor last week in the face of a news conference, at which time he called the Grand Rapids, Mich., officer’s actions “inappropriate” and said the video was “disturbing” and “makes me physically nauseous.”
On Dec. 6 police came across young Honestie Hodges while searching for her aunt, a 40-year-old white woman, who was a suspect in a stabbing. Officers approached her and told her to walk backwards with her hands up. She was then patted down, placed in handcuffs and put in the back of a police cruiser. On the video, Honestie repeatedly screams, “No! No! No!” over the sound of handcuffs tightening.
“I was putting my hands through the little bars leaning out of the window, screaming, ‘Please don’t let them take me,’” 11-year-old Honestie Hodges told local media.
But instead of punishing the officers, the department appears to be saying, “We’ll just do better next time.”
In its statement, the GPRD detailed a list of steps it would take, including additional support on each patrol shift, “additional dynamic-scenario training that includes children,” interaction between officers and community children and the creation of an “Honestie” policy. The statement did not describe what the policy would entail.
The department told WOOD TV8, a local NBC affiliate, that the city has approved additional funding for these next steps but a specific amount has yet to be determined.
The statement was released the same day as additional video footage of the incident. Remarks made by officers on the scene can be heard in the new clips.
The camera does not show which officer is talking when comments are made.
“Well, we took a child into custody at gunpoint,” says one officer, identified by Fox 17 as Grand Rapids Officer Anthony Barberino. “We’re all going to be on the news now.”
Honestie’s mother can be heard yelling hysterically in the background, pleading with officers and trying to figure out why they’re detaining her daughter.
“That girl’s trying to get Tased. Why is she freaked out right now?” It is not determined if the same officer made this comment as well or who he was referring to.
“While the outcome was not something that we want to replicate, we did not identify any violations of policy or procedure and the officers’ actions were consistent with their training,” Rahinsky told Fox 17.
“It’s been a trying 10 days for the community. It’s been no less trying for the department. But I think in every crisis there’s an opportunity, and that’s how we’re going to get stronger collectively.”
The resolution disappointed members of the community.
“We are dismayed that there would even be the possibility of no disciplinary action on behalf of an officer, especially since the process of investigation and discipline is totally controlled by the Grand Rapids Police Department,” Rev. Jerry Bishop of LifeQuest Ministries told WOOD TV8.
Prior to the department’s statement, Honestie posed an important question of her own to Fox 17.
“I have a question for the Grand Rapids Police. If this happened to a white child, if her mother was screaming, ‘She’s 11,’ would you have handcuffed her and put her in the back of a police car?”