GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD)– A Grand Rapids officer who repeatedly hit a teenager during a June 2014 arrest said he believed the teen was armed at the time.
That’s according to the police report obtained by 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday.
According to the report, Officer Sean McCamman said he struck Donovann Braswell in the head four times with a flashlight following a foot chase to defend himself.
Braswell, who was 15 years old at the time, was later cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.
His family has now filed a federal lawsuit against the city and three of its officers, including McCamman. They claim police falsely arrested Braswell and nearly beat him to death.
It started with a 911 call near the corner of Dolby and Dunham on the city’s southeast side.
“It looks like a little boy got a gun in his waistband. I don’t know, but some people’s walking up the street saying he has a gun,” the caller stated.
The dispatcher then asked if the caller could see a gun.
“I heard people talking about it, and he keeps holding his waistline. I don’t know,” the caller responded.
When police arrived at the scene, they spotted a group of juveniles.
According to the police report, officers tried stopping the group –- but that’s when Braswell took off.
In the report, multiple officers said they noticed Braswell grabbing at his waistband as he ran. They said he would not stop, despite their calls to do so.
The chase eventually ended at a fence between two homes on Logan Street.
In the Use of Force report, Officer Sean McCamman said he pulled Braswell off a fence. He said Braswell fell and landed on his stomach, face down, and that both of Braswell’s hands were under his body, near his waist.
McCamman, who said he was along the teen’s right side, believed Braswell was armed.
“It was my belief that Braswell was armed with a firearm, specifically a handgun, and that was the reason for him grabbing/holding his waist/side while running and now keeping both of his hands under his body near his waist area,” McCamman stated in the report.
McCamman said he asked Braswell to show him his hands twice, but that the teen would not.
“I felt I had to defend myself against a reasonable threat of death or serious bodily injury, so I struck Braswell in the haired portion of the head four times with my flashlight,” McCamman said.
At that point, Braswell’s left arm came out from under his body. Other officers arrived and McCamman was able to secure Braswell’s right arm and then handcuff him.
Police did not find a gun on the teen. However in their report, officers said they discovered a revolver in an area where Braswell landed after leaping a fence during the chase.
In court records, Braswell’s attorney suggested police planted the gun there to “provide themselves with retroactive justification for using force or to preemptively counter a defense involving the right to resist an unlawful arrest.”
In the juvenile court case, prosecutors said that McCamman’s use of force was justified.
The three officers named in the lawsuit were not disciplined over the incident.
The city is not commenting specifically on the incident due to the pending federal lawsuit. However, while responding to 24 Hour News 8’s Freedom of Information Act request, the city attorney stated the teen and his family never requested a further investigation into the case, which would have merited a higher level of review.
Braswell does have a criminal record, including convictions for home invasions, using marijuana and resisting police. In this case, a judge dismissed the obstructing case against Braswell — finding officers had no good reason to stop the teen. A juvenile court jury found him not guilty of carrying a concealed weapon.