GRPD officer on leave amid use of force investigation

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids police officer is on leave as the department investigates an incident the night of the riot in which a man was pepper-sprayed and then hit by a flashbang canister, the chief said.

“There is currently a review by the prosecutor’s office on our officer’s actions that night,” Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Payne told city commissioners at a Tuesday morning meeting. “…We’d like to have a determination from the prosecutor and have this internal investigation wrapped up as soon as possible, but we want to make sure we’re thorough and complete with those investigations.”

He noted that are a number of reports to get through and said that takes time.

“We’re trying to expedite it but we have to make sure we’re doing our due diligence and we’re doing this correctly,” Payne said.

Sean Hart told News 8 earlier this month that he filed an excessive force complaint with GRPD for the incident that happened amid a downtown riot on May 30 and May 31. Hart said he went to confront an officer who he claimed previously pointed a canister launcher at him, at which point an officer sprayed him and then fired the flashbang at close range. Hart wasn’t seriously hurt, but he said the firing of the canister was uncalled for.

Someone captured video of the incident, which was posted online and within days had millions of views.

A former police officer who now teaches deescalation told News 8 that the firing of the canister was “unacceptable.”

After GRPD finishes its internal investigation, the city’s Office of Oversight and Public Accountability will review it.

Several people have been charged in connection to the riot, which damaged more than 100 buildings downtown and resulted in more than $2 million in private damages and costs to the city.