A video of police in Westland, Michigan tasing an unarmed African American man while he holds his two month old baby has gone viral on social media, prompting outrage and calls for reform. You can watch the video here.
Te video was shot in a back yard at night. On the video, police warn the man that he will go to jail for disorderly conduct if he keeps yelling. The man yells, “what? on my own property?” The situation escalates from there. The camera focuses on the man, who is wearing a black shirt and holding a baby wrapped in a white blanket. Police order him to “give the baby back.” The man yells, “back off.”
The camera then moves to another part of the yard, where a few women are warning each other not to intervene. “You’re not going to jail for him,” one woman yells. In the midst of the women’s argument, you can suddenly hear the clattering sound of a taser going off. Women begin screaming. The man is on the ground.
Police Said They Were At the Home In Response to a Domestic Violence Call
The incidents on the video all took place on Friday, August 17, at about 9PM. Police said that they had received reports that a male had attacked a woman and damaged her vehicle. They said that when they arrived at the house, they realized that the man also had outstanding warrants out for his arrest. The man’s name has not yet been disclosed.
Police say they told the man that he would be arrested for assault, damaged property, and outstanding issues. They also say that when he heard this, he grabbed the 2 month old baby from the child’s mother and ordered them to “back off.” The police claim that he refused to hand the baby back, even when the baby’s mother asked him to.
Police say that the baby was not hurt. His mother caught him when his father was tased. The baby was apparently checked out by EMT and was found to be unharmed.
Police Waited Until Monday to Release a Statement Saying that Tasing Had Been the Safest Option
On Monday, police released an official statement, setting out their reasoning for using a taser on the man. You can read it below:
On August 17th Westland Police Officers were dispatched to an address on Alberta Court in Westland on report that a male subject had physically assaulted a female and that he had damaged her vehicle.
Westland Police Officers made contact with the man involved in the incident. It was determined that the man was going to be arrested for the assault, the damaged property and also for a number of outstanding arrest warrants. Once the man learned that he was going to be arrested he grabbed the child from the mother’s arms and held the child tightly. The man refused to release the child back to the mother who was also asking for the child back.
At that time the police officers on scene felt that a close quarters direct taser deployment directly to the subjects back was the safest option. The video shows that during the deployment the child was also in the hands of the mother. The child was not injured during the arrest. The child was examined by the Westland EMT and turned over to the mother.
Like all Use of Force incidents, The Westland Police Department will conduct a thorough internal investigation to determine whether policy and procedure was followed and whether the incident was handled correctly. At this point in time that investigation is only in the beginning phase.