GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Chief Eric Payne of the Grand Rapids Police Department is speaking out after an arrest made last week at a McDonald's sparked viral attention.
The video, which was uploaded to social platform TikTok, accumulated over 200,000 views and an internal investigation by the department.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there," said Payne in an interview with 13 ON YOUR SIDE.
Payne said his officers were called to a break-in on the city's east side. The owner of the building said they saw a backpack at the point of break.
"Within close proximity is the McDonald's," said Payne. "Our officers observed a subject with a backpack that fit the description."
In the video, a person is heard claiming the man was a worker at the McDonald's, there to pick up his check. An advocate for Justice for Black Lives shared the video on TikTok, and said it showed racial profiling.
"There was no mention of race at all," said Payne. "I mean, the backpack was distinctive enough, drew their attention to the backpack. So, there was no mention of race. The complainant never saw the person who attempted to break into their building."
The man was arrested and charged with resisting and opposing a police officer, and malicious destruction of property. He remains a suspect in the break-in.
"There's reports of injuries he sustained and those injuries were self inflicted," said Payne. "At no time did our officers use force on him to cause those injuries. Basically, he banged his head into the side of our police car, which caused the injuries."
13 ON YOUR SIDE has reached out to the family of the man arrested, but they are not speaking at this time. They are seeking legal action.
The Office of Oversight and Public Accountability received many complaints about the incident in the video and filed an official complaint with the police department. An internal investigation is taking place.
"There's a lot of speculation out there," said Payne. "The internal affairs investigation, we'll take the facts and we'll come up with a determination of whether our officers conduct was proper or not. And I will hold them accountable if it was not done properly. Preliminarily, of course investigation is not complete, but what I have been told so far, what I have seen, it appears our officers acted accordingly. But, I want a complete investigation done to make sure that we do have all the facts."
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH CHIEF PAYNE HERE:
Thursday, Chief Payne released this statement, in hopes of providing more context to the public.
"I want to take this opportunity to provide the community with some additional context regarding a high-profile arrest that took place last Friday outside a McDonald’s. I am limited in what I can share while this incident is under investigation but here are the facts as we currently understand them.
A security alarm was triggered at business in the 2700 block of 29th Street. The owners went to check on the business and saw a window in the loading dock door had been removed and a chair placed underneath the opening. There was also a distinctive unattended backpack on the loading dock. They went to check the front of the building while calling the police. Officers were dispatched to the location at 6:43 pm. When the owners retuned to the loading dock area a few minutes later, the backpack was gone.
Two officers who were responding to the break-in initiated verbal contact with the individual in the McDonald’s parking lot because the backpack he was wearing fit the description given by the owners, and he was in close proximity to the location and timing of the break-in.
Breaking and entering is a felony. Officers are trained to conduct high-risk stops in felony situations. The first priority in a high-risk stop is to secure the scene to protect the safety of the subject, the officers, and any bystanders. Officers followed procedures for a high-risk stop, including keeping space between themselves and the subject, using de-escalation techniques to encourage cooperation, and avoiding physical contact while dialogue is on-going. The suspect did not comply with lawfully given orders and made remarks about being suicidal.
Officers talked to the suspect for several minutes in an attempt to de-escalate the situation and secure the scene. Additional units that were headed to the break-in location, including the K-9 team that would start a track from the building, were redirected to the McDonald’s lot due to the subject’s resistance and the crowd. Officers from a neighboring jurisdiction also responded to back up GRPD officers, which often occurs in high-risk situations that are near jurisdictional boundaries.
A subsequent review of video obtained from McDonald’s indicated the suspect arrived approximately 20 minutes before officers. This conflicts with witness statements that the individual was on-site for several hours.
Body-worn and dash-board camera footage has been collected and preserved per department regulations.
At this time, the individual has been charged with resisting arrest and the investigation into the breaking and entering is continuing."
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