Girl handcuffed by police 3 years ago, sparking controversy, dies of COVID, family says

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

A 14-year-old girl who was handcuffed by Grand Rapids police three years ago and spurred the department to examine how it interacted with children during searches has died from COVID-19, her grandmother said Sunday.

Honestie Hodges was hospitalized on Nov. 9, her 14th birthday, at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and sent home, according to a GoFundMe. Later that night she was rushed back to the hospital.

“We understand that there is a story to be told regarding COVID and what is happening with these children, but right now we are just not ready," said Honestie's grandmother, Alisa Niemeyer, when reached by The Detroit News. "Our family is grieving right now and we need all the prayers we can get.”

Honestie Hodges, 11, middle, listens during a Greater Grand Rapids NAACP press conference at Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. The local NAACP says Grand Rapids police used excessive force in the controversial handcuffing of Honestie at gunpoint while searching for a stabbing suspect on Dec. 6. (Cory Morse /The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

A fundraising post said Niemeyer was raising money for the family because her daughter had not been able to work as a nursing assistant at a nursing home because she was with her daughter at the hospital.

Honestie was 11 when police went to the family's Grand Rapids home searching for a stabbing suspect. Police held Honestie, her mother and an aunt at gunpoint outside their home while police looked for another aunt suspected in a stabbing. The aunt who was suspected wasn't there, but was arrested at another home and held on charges of assault with intent to commit murder, according to reports by the Associated Press and Grand Rapids Press at the time..

Police said an internal investigation of the Dec. 6, 2017, incident found that officers didn't violate department policy. 

The Grand Rapids police chief at the time said his officers should have exercised discretion rather than handcuffing Honestie while investigating the incident.

The police chief said the body-camera footage that showed Honestie screaming as she was taken into custody was "disturbing."

On the GoFundMe page, Niemeyer said Honestie was moved to ICU and had an iron and blood transfusion, and was given oxygen before eventually being placed on a ventilator.

"It is with an extremely heavy heart that I have to tell all of you that my beautiful, sassy, smart loving granddaughter has gone home to be with Jesus," said Niemeyer in a GoFundMe said in the post.

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Staff Writer Jasmin Barmore contributed to this report.