Woman in video of police punch released, urges 'constitutional' police action
Pittsfield Township — The black woman whose controversial arrest was recorded as she was punched by a white sheriff's deputy said Friday she does not have a problem with law enforcement but their actions have “to be constitutional.”
Sha'Teina Grady El, 45, who had been granted administrative release by the Wayne County Circuit Court earlier in the day, spoke to those gathered Friday to protest police brutality outside the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office after a video surfaced of her arrest earlier this week in Ypsilanti Township.
Wearing a dark blue “Imported from Detroit” hoodie, Grady El was overcome with emotion multiple times as she spoke to the nearly 200. She was brought to tears when she saw the size of the crowds.
“If everybody treated people as they want to be treated,” said Grady El, there wouldn’t be a need for a protest.
Her attorney, William Amadeo, said he will seek to have all of Grady El's charges dropped. She is involved in three other Wayne County cases.
"You know what's funny? We didn't get a hearing in Detroit, and we didn't get a hearing in Washtenaw," Amadeo told The Detroit News. "I think the power of numbers is really showing its force right now."
Supporters of Grady El, who is listed in documents as Shatina Grady and Shatina Grady El, protested Friday afternoon outside the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office ahead of a press conference Friday by Sheriff Jerry Clayton.
Clayton said during that press conference, a deputy vilified on social media was not involved in the incident. Clayton has said several officers have been placed on administrative leave, including one seen on video punching the woman, and that an investigation is underway.
Clayton also played nearly 45 minutes of body camera footage of the incident that occurred on Tuesday. Initially, a 911 call placed by a woman at midnight reported 30 people outside in the neighborhood and two gunshots. During a second call to Washtenaw 911, another woman reported the incident on Peachcrest.
Officers approached a house party on the 2000 block of Peachcrest, where they prepared to clear the scene until a person alerted them to a wounded woman. Officers inspected the woman, who had been shot in the back, who said she just came from the party when suspects approached her.
Residents at the scene refused to allow deputies to search the home, and after a screaming match, a sergeant instructed officers to lock down the area, according to the video. During the altercation with a man and Grady El, an officer said "quit biting me" before hitting Grady El and placing her under arrest.
Clayton said they have launched a full investigation.
“We arrived on the scene, find a gunshot victim, the victim describes a person, direction of travel and the person went into this house,” Clayton said. “(We) set a perimeter and make sure no one else gets hurt and that doesn’t let the shooter get away.”
Clayton did not comment on when is excessive physical force allowed in police training but said “we do not have it written that you can never punch."
Those gathered outside the headquarters Friday decried police tactics.
“(Police) don’t know how to de-escalate,” said Trische Duckworth, an organizer of the protest. “They come into our communities aggressive. They come in disrespectful. They have a superiority complex, but they are not superior to us.”
The protesters aimed their ire at more than just Grady El's arrest. The recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis also drew attention.
Steph and Mariah Parrish of Pittsfield Township, 29 and 30 respectively, wore matching black shirts that said: “How perfect does a black boy have to be before we mourn him?”
“No matter how smart and intelligent, kind these men are, like, the media, the police, every powerful system is gonna find a way to discredit them and make it so that their life didn't matter or that they deserved it or they had it coming,” said Steph Parrish, who is white. “The victim-blaming is absurd.”
Clayton has said several officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave and that an investigation is underway.
Amadeo, Grady El's attorney, believes Floyd's videotaped death during an arrest in Minneapolis is why interest is so high locally in Grady El's case. This week, there have been multiple protests at the sheriff's office regarding her arrest.
"The fact that we have a black woman that has been brutalized by three different police agencies, all at the hands of white officers — there is a lot of unrest in our country right now. The timing really helped us.
"And the post on Facebook, of the actual beating, was huge," Amadeo said. "People said 'this never happened in Washtenaw before', but let me tell you, maybe it's never been recorded in Washtenaw before, but it has happened."
Earlier in the day, Nancy Knight, a staffer in the court of Wayne County Circuit Judge Qiana Lillard, said Grady El's Friday hearing would not take place, as her release had already been authorized.
Robert Dunlap, chief of jails for Wayne County, said just before 11 a.m. that the jail was in the process of facilitating that release.
"We didn't want this coronavirus issue to be exacerbated, so we're working on getting her released," Dunlap said.
Court records show one of Grady El's cases is out of Canton Township; the two others stem from alleged incidents in Taylor.
In the Canton Township case, Grady El was a front-seat passenger of a vehicle "that had no record on file" during a March 2019 traffic stop, said Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
Grady El allegedly refused to give identification to police, but officers say they "were able to determine her identity" and learned she had a warrant out for her arrest in Taylor.
"After approximately 40 minutes of being asked to get out of the car, the officers broke the window and were able to remove her from the car," Miller wrote in an email. "She is alleged to have bitten one officer — piercing his skin through his leather glove."
In the Canton Township case, Grady El is charged with one count of resisting and obstructing an officer causing injury, and four counts of resisting and obstructing an officer.
Grady El's trial was to begin March 2, court records show, but she did not appear at the court. That failure-to-appear warrant is one of the reasons she was taken from Washtenaw County Jail to Wayne County Jail, rather than released, this week.
The Taylor case allegedly stems from a December 2019 traffic stop for speeding, Miller wrote.
"It is alleged that she refused to pull over initially, then when she finally pulled over it is alleged that she gave the officer a fake ID card and refused to get out the vehicle and had to be physically removed," Miller wrote.
Grady El was charged with fourth-degree fleeing and eluding, and resisting/obstructing the police. She faces a June 8 probable cause conference in that case, and a June 15 preliminary exam before Judge Joseph Slaven at 23rd District Court. Slaven gave her a $2,000 cash bond.
Grady El is also still wrapping up a 2018 misdemeanor case in Taylor, allegedly for "interfering with police authority," and has a settlement conference scheduled for Tuesday.