A Michigan mother is demanding that the Grand Rapids Police Department fire the officers who handcuffed her 11-year-old twin boys at gunpoint, last month. Juanita Ligon filed a complaint with the GRPD’s internal affairs unit after her sons were “racially profiled”, wrongfully detained and subsequently left “traumatized” by the ordeal, which police are investigating.
Video footage of the incident, which occurred on Aug. 26 and was posted by the Grand Rapids Press soon after, went viral on Saturday (Sept. 2). According to Ligon, police claim that they were responding to a 911 call about 13-year-old black male suspects carrying a handgun. No gun was found on the boys, including a 17-year-old family friend. The boys were handcuffed and detained in separate squad cars.
Authorities reportedly said that only one of the twins was handcuffed. In an interview with MLive.com, Ligon confirmed that both of her sons were thrown in cuffs. Ligon, 37, was not with the boys at the time, but one of her sons called her to tearfully recount the incident. The boy told his mother that they were walking back from Little Caesars with the older teen when an officer stopped them, and ordered them to the ground.
The dash cam recording begins with cops instructing one of the boys to walk backwards towards them with his hands above his head. A cop then places the boy in cuffs.
Ligon said that the officers’ actions violate a new GRPD policy signed after a 2017 incident where cops handcuffed a terrified 11-year-old girl at gunpoint while searching for her aunt. “How do we have a policy in honor of Honestie Hodges and you violate that policy and the new training by doing the same thing you did a few months ago with the same age kids?”
“They’re supposed to take better precaution, not use excessive force unless they feel in danger,” she continued. “No way they felt in danger by my boys because they’re trained to seek out if a person is acting suspect.”
Ligon went on to say that police didn’t have a “clear description” of the alleged suspects and had to contact the caller to get additional information. Authorities were looking for a pair of black teens, one wearing a red shirt and jeans, and the other in a black shirt and jeans. “None of the boy had jeans on,” Ligon said.
“The police told me they were looking for a suspect but didn’t have a clear description from the caller but they were looking for a boy, age 13, who was believed to have a gun but they believed it was a BB gun,” she added. “They didn’t have a clear description so they stopped the first group of black boys they saw? That’s nothing but racial profiling.”
Although an investigation is on-going, Grand Rapids Police Department Chief David Rahinsky said the officers followed proper protocol.