GRPD defends holding unarmed teens at gunpoint

Grand Rapids, teens stopped
This still taken from Facebook video shows Grand Rapids police hold teen boys at gunpoint. (March 24, 2017)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The mother of two boys who were held at gunpoint by Grand Rapids Police Department officers says she and other parents want an apology, but GRPD says it was following protocol.

The March 24 incident has some community leaders asking GRPD to review their policies.

That evening, a group of five black teens, all ages 12 through 14, played basketball at the Salvation Army Kroc Center on South Division Avenue. Shortly after 7 p.m., they were heading home on nearby Francis Avenue SE.

Meanwhile, GRPD got a call about a fight involving 100 people that broke out at the Kroc. An officer who was responding was told a teen walking with a group in the area was carrying a revolver. GRPD Sgt. Terry Dixon told 24 Hour News 8 that officers were told the armed teen was dressed in all black.

As they searched the area, an officer spotted the group on Francis and determined they met the description. He drew his gun and ordered them to get on the ground, Dixon said.

None of the boys were armed.

“We have to exercise due diligence if we come across someone matching that description,” Dixon said. “In this case, it appears they matched the description but the gun, they didn’t have one. That’s unfortunate. That is something that should be in dialogue, but as far as the actions of the police officer — they did nothing wrong.”

Ikeshia Quinn’s two sons were among the five who were stopped. She told 24 Hour News 8 in a phone call on Thursday that the boys are traumatized by what happened.

“Now they’re saying they don’t like the police. They don’t want to be involved with the police. They should’ve been approached differently because they are young boys. They had basketballs in their hands,” she said.

She and other parents now want a public apology from the officers involved.

Dixon said GRPD is committed to continuing conversations with the teens and spoke to the parents the night of the incident to explain their protocols.

Community leaders from the Greater Grand Rapids branch of the NAACP, Micah Center and LINC UP met with 24 Hour News 8 Thursday to express their support for the families. They also want the department to review how it responds to reports of potentially armed individuals.

“No community can be safe and be effective for all people without strong relationships between both the police and the community and that’s what we really want to make sure happens from this incident,” LINC UP Executive Director Jeremy DeRoo told 24 Hour News 8.

The groups and families plan to be at the city commission meeting on April 11 to further discussions.