Westland officer in stun gun incident suspended for 30 days
Westland police suspended an officer who used a stun gun on a man who was holding an infant.
An internal investigation determined the officer acted appropriately because the man failed to comply with demands, police Chief Jeff Jedrusik said in a statement Wednesday.
However, "the use of the Taser at that time, while he was holding the child, was a questionable decision," the chief said. "We are all thankful that the child was not injured."
Ray Brown, who is African-American, was stunned with a Taser during an arrest Friday.
A 30-day unpaid suspension for the officer "will give us the opportunity to review all of our use of force policies and our department’s training of those policies," Jedrusik said.
News of the decision came hours after a Detroit civil rights group announced plans to protest the Police Department on Friday.
The Rev. Charles E. Williams II, president of the National Action Network's Detroit chapter, said the group will hold its demonstration at noon in front of the Westland Police Department’s headquarters.
The demonstration still will go forward despite news of the action against the officer, Williams said. "For them to suspend this officer — to us, what this says is they know something was wrong. Wrong is wrong and we're protesting. This officer should be gone, not suspended."
Earlier, Williams called for the "immediate dismissal and the immediate removal of this officer."
“We're saying enough is enough and we will not deal with this any longer, especially from these suburb towns around the city of Detroit that feel like they don't want you there and we'll exercise police brutality on you to keep you out,” Williams said.
Williams made the announcement during a news conference Wednesday at Detroit's Historic King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church, where he is senior pastor.
He was joined by Brown, his attorney, family and friends as well as National Action Network supporters. Many carried signs that read “Will I be next?” and “Justice for Ray.”
Westland city officials said the demonstration is welcome.
“Any group or individual is always welcome to peacefully demonstrate in Westland and as mayor, I encourage open dialogue in regards to issues facing our community,” Westland Mayor Bill Wild said in a statement Wednesday.
Williams said if the city does not respond, "We will escalate our actions in the city of Westland."
"We are not against police officers," Williams said. "We are against bad police officers. When there are bad police officers, we want them gone and we want them gone immediately."
Brown’s attorney, Gregory Rohl, said his client sustained serious injuries, including a closed head injury and torn cartilage in his knee. Brown was walking with crutches Wednesday and had a brace around one of his legs.
"My client was beaten and Tased unnecessarily on his own property while holding his son," Rohl said. "It's an outrage. It's the definition of cruel and unusual as I understand it. And it should never happen again. Unfortunately, it happens too often."
Brown also has six or seven burn marks from the stun gun, the attorney said.
Rohl also said he wants Westland city officials to request that Michigan State Police investigate the incident.
Neither Brown nor his family spoke during the news conference on the advice of his attorney.
Rohl, a Novi attorney, also represented Floyd Dent, a Detroit man whose 2015 arrest and beating by an Inkster police officer was caught on video. Dent settled a lawsuit against the city for nearly $1.4 million. The officer involved in the incident, William Melendez, was convicted of assault and misconduct and served 14 months in jail.
Video shared on social media showed the confrontation, in which Brown accuses the officer of using the electric stun gun while Brown had a 2-month-old baby in his arms.
Westland Police defended the officer's actions and said Brown was told several times to return the baby to the child's mother, but he refused to do so. Officers and the child's mother were close enough to grab the baby, who was unharmed, after Brown was incapacitated.
On Monday, the police chief said the charge from a stun gun doesn't transfer from the person being stunned to anyone in contact with the person.
Brown was charged with disturbing the peace, hindering a police investigation, damage to property, neglect of a minor child, disorderly person, resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer.