Video of a white cop punching a young black girl sparked outrage as activist groups used the clip to decry police brutality. Not everyone is sympathetic towards the teen suspect, however. See for yourself, and you decide if she “deserved it.”
Lindsey Howley, a white 31-year-old police officer with the Lansing Police Department in Michigan, became the center of controversy after the arrest of a black teenage girl that seemingly went horribly wrong was caught on video. In the footage, Howley undeniably punched the 16-year-old girl, causing activists to cry foul, but not everyone sees a problem with the officer’s use of force.
Officer Howley and Officer Bailey Ueberroth, both white, responded to a call of two teens with apprehension orders on a Friday afternoon. The suspects, a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, had alleged runaway warrants and were suspected of violating probation and escaping from custody. The boy was apprehended without much incident, but the 16-year-old girl’s arrest was much more difficult after she made a run for it.
Officer Ueberroth’s body cam captured the chase as the girl darted through bushes and front yards before falling, giving the officer the opportunity to attempt to detain her. As Ueberroth tried to handcuff her, however, she got to her feet. “Do you want to go to the ground? Put your hands behind your back. Release your fingers. I’m about to bring you to the ground. Do you want to go to the ground?” Ueberroth warned.
As Officer Ueberroth walked the girl towards his cruiser, all hell broke loose again. “[She] became irate once my vehicle was in sight,” Ueberroth’s report said. She pulled away, freed her hand from the cuffs, and a struggle ensued. The teen’s shirt came loose as she went to the ground and started crying, screaming, and struggling to get up. “Get on the ground,” Ueberroth ordered, pushing her head toward the concrete and pinning her against the pavement.
Undeterred, the teen used her hand to brace herself and get back up. Officer Lindsey Howley then helped Ueberroth restrain the teen, and the officers begin to walk her toward the cruiser again. According to Ueberroth’s report, the girl resisted arrest by “jamming her feet into the ground,” spitting, and going limp.Howley’s body cam shows Ueberroth holding the suspect by the arm and dragging her to the squad car as she cries for her mother.
After carrying the teen to the cruiser, the officers tried to place her in the backseat. Refusing to put her legs inside the vehicle, the 16-year-old girl held the door open with her foot as both officers struggled to get her inside and put the seat belt around her. “I didn’t put my hands on her. What the f***,” the teen yelled. This lead to the most controversial part of the arrest.
As the suspect breathes heavily and yells, fighting the officers’ efforts of securing her in the backseat, Officer Ueberroth advises her that the incident will end if she moves her leg, ordering her to do so and asking her why she wants to fight. Bystanders begin to gather, yell at the cops, and record with their cellphones. With onlookers growing angry and the teen continuing to resist, Officer Lindsey Howley also orders her to “Put your leg in” and punches her in the thigh numerous times, using “closed fist strikes” in an attempt to “dislodge her foot from the door,” according to Howley’s report.
“No, b****, don’t punch me. You’re not supposed to punch me,” the teen screamed. She also kicked the officer in the chest. Eventually, Howley managed to push the door shut, but the case was far from closed. Although the girl did not require medical attention and was obviously resisting arrest, local activist groups quickly called the use of force an act of police brutality. Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski disagrees, defending Howley’s move.
Lansing’s NAACP, the local Black Lives Matter chapter, Michigan Indivisible, and other activist groups quickly demanded the city compensate the girl’s family, fire the officers involved, establish a Community Accountability Council to review police misconduct, train officers to deal with juveniles, and more. They allege Howley’s response was “rushed and showed no tolerance or patience for resistance.”
Chief Yankowski is standing by his officers. Although the cops involved were placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, Yankowski maintained that the method Officer Howley used was part of her training. A punch to the thigh’s common peroneal nerve is a de-escalation technique taught by the department, Yankowski explained, pointing out that the suspect “actively attempted to escape custody” and had to be “forced to the ground in order to control her.”
The teen reportedly suffered only a few scratches, which could have occurred when she ran through the bushes, attempting to flee. She did, however, injure Officer Lindsey Howley during the arrest. “I sustained injuries to my right hand and wrist,” Howley wrote in her report. “My right thumb was cut and bleeding and began to swell. My right hand also began to swell and bruise from the kicking and resisting.”
Both teens were transported to the Ingham County Youth Home and charged with two felonies each, including resisting and obstructing arrest. The girl was also charged with aggravated and felonious assault of a police officer. The boy’s second charge was malicious destruction of police property. Was the use of force justified in this case? You tell us.