The Grand Rapids Police Department is facing a possible lawsuit after a Michigan cop was seen on bodycam footage punching a Black man at least six times during a traffic stop.
Per police, on March 26, officials initially pulled over a car with two Black men and one Latino man inside for littering.
On video, as officers walk up to the Chevrolet sedan, one of them can be heard saying he saw the passenger stuff something under his seat.
Police ask the passenger who they say threw something out of the window to step out of the car.
Simultaneously, other officers can be heard going back and forth with the driver, identified by attorney Tyrone Bynum as Diabate Hood, who repeatedly asks why he is being asked to step out of the car when officers have his license. Hood also adds that he has somewhere to be.
TMZ and Fox40 report that the video appears to show that while the passenger is being frisked, it appears Hood tries to get out of the passenger side door.
After Hood is pulled from the passenger side door, officers can be seen on top of him, accusing him of resisting arrest. One cop is seen punching Hood multiple times in the face.
Throughout the incident, Hood repeatedly yells out, “I can’t breathe!” and expresses that his eye is in pain.
Later in the video, cops accuse Hood of pulling out a gun, which he denies.
As Hood is in custody, one officer tells Hood, “You’re lucky you’re not dead.”
Police say they found four weapons in the vehicle and that the stop resulted in three felony arrests.
In a Wednesday statement, GRPD Chief Eric Payne said, “This is the police work that I expect from my personnel. I have made the enforcement of violent crime and the recovery of illegal firearms one of the department’s top priorities.”
Per TMZ, authorities say the traffic stop was part of its Operation: Safe Neighborhoods program, which they say is trying to tackle the increase in violent crime in the area. Police also claim they had "timely and accurate intelligence" to justify the event.
However, Bynum, who is representing the three men, argues that they should have never been asked to get out of the car. He is also comparing the incident to that of George Floyd — who was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020..
“What I saw in the video was another George Floyd,” Bynum said in a statement obtained by Fox40. “My point is: why are we to this point anyway? This is a felony-type stop. Why are we asking these guys to get out of the vehicle? Why are we handcuffing them?”
Bynum also takes issue with one of the cops telling Hood he is “lucky you’re not dead.”
“For that to be a statement made in the heat of the moment, that was an honest statement and an honest belief of an officer that believed that was a possibility,” he explained. “I mean he actually stated, he actually said, ‘You’re lucky.’”
Since the video has gone viral, Bynum says he has received inquiries from other individuals who allege they were also racially profiled in the same area.
Per Fox40, GRPD says the stop was reviewed by supervisors and members of the department’s Training Unit.
As of this writing, the outlet says there have been no Internal Affairs complaints filed about the incident.