GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids attorney is defending his client, after he was charged with three felonies following a traffic stop on March 26, 2021.
Police body cam video began circulating on social media of the incident, showing "use of force" by the officers. In the video, taken during the stop at South Division and Hall Street, the driver of the vehicle is seen attempting to get out of the passenger side door. Then, after he is pulled to the ground, a Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) officer repeatedly punches him.
You can watch the video in question here. WARNING: Some may find the video graphic.
Police say the car was pulled over because they saw someone littering. The incident was during the most recent "Operation: Safe Neighborhoods."
In the video, the passenger is told to exit the vehicle. He does, and is handcuffed by officers. Then, the officers tell the driver of the vehicle to exit as well. The driver's attorney, Tyrone Bynum, identified the driver as Diabate Hood. Hood responds to the officer asking why he needs to leave the vehicle.
"Now my client and the passengers are becoming afraid," said Bynum. "because they’ve seen this all too often where it’s a traffic citation that escalates. And before you know it, there’s a young black man in the middle of the street shot to death."
The video shows Hood attempting to escape the vehicle through the passenger door. That is when officers pull him to the ground, and one officer punches him.
Grand Rapids Police in a statement Wednesday said Hood attempted to flee and resist officers, attempting to disarm an officer during the incident. Police said force was deemed necessary to stop the threat and effect the arrest.
"Now my client, they're telling him stop resisting," said Bynum. "But instinctively, if he had the ability to resist, if his arms were free, he would have brought them up here. But he didn’t. This guy had free rein at his face, punched him five to seven times."
The video was made public Wednesday by Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack. Shortly after he posted the video the Grand Rapids Police Department issued a press release on the matter.
In that statement, GRPD Chief Eric Payne said, "This is the police work that I expect from my personnel. I have made the enforcement of violent crime and the recovery of illegal firearms one of the department’s top priorities.”
Hood is facing three felonies, and police say they recovered four firearms in the incident. Bynum said his client is charged with trying to disarm a police officer, felony firearm, and resisting and obstructing.
Following the punching, Hood is seen in the video being held down by the officers. He says he can't breathe, but the officers say he can.
During the video, Hood is complaining about his eye. An officer can be heard responding, "You're lucky you're not dead, so how about you just stop?"
"You’re lucky you’re not dead? What do you mean?" said Bynum. "Was it your intent to kill him? And he’s lucky that he messed up your plan?"
Bynum called the situation racial profiling and excessive use of force. He also believes what the officer did was against the law.
The Grand Rapids Office of Oversight and Public Accountability (OPA) released a statement Thursday calling the conduct in the video "concerning."
Brendon Davis, OPA's director, said this is a perfect example of an incident that should be closely monitored and evaluated by the OPA. However, he explains they have not been provided any internal affairs documents on the case, despite requests.
"In the event that OPA is granted access to GRPD Internal Affairs files (to the extent allowed by the law), OPA will monitor and review this incident and other incidents involving the GRPD and alleged violations of both law and policy. The unfortunate reality is that GRPD controls access to its records and they have chosen to withhold these records which prevents OPA from fully doing our job. OPA will continue to push GRPD to stand behind the bales stated in their Strategic Plan, and fully embrace accountability by providing the OPA with lawful access to evidence and information. Grand Rapidan's deserve the accountability and transparency they have been promised."
RELATED VIDEO: Kent Co. Commissioner Womack reacts to 'use of force' video
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