A viral video on Facebook appears to show the moment Westland, Mich. police tased a black father, even as he still has his two-month-old baby in his hands.
According to WXYZ, the confrontation started on Friday at a home in Alberta Court where neighbors had gathered for a barbecue. Officers were called to the home because someone reported a fight.
“We were just barbecuing, and we saw the cops come up,” neighbor and witness Kelvin Williams told the news station. “They came up and asked us who was fighting. We were like, ‘You got the wrong house.’”
That was when the baby’s father, Ray Brown, started to get agitated, Williams said.
“At that point, my friend Ray got a little agitated like you’re coming over to my house, my property and you’re asking me about something I don’t know about,” Williams explained.
In the footage that was captured by Williams, Brown could be seen arguing with officers. One officer can be heard telling Brown that he’s going to jail for disorderly persons.
“What?” Brown exclaims in disbelief.
It was at that point that another person who was holding Brown’s son was told to remove the baby from the scene.
“Get the baby out of here. Get the baby out of here,” an officer said.
“That’s my child. He can be exactly where he’s at. Give me my child. Give me my child,” Brown argues, taking his son.
Officers start to surround Brown, who is still holding his son, with a taser out. Nichole Skidmore, Brown’s girlfriend and the mother of the child, came to try to retrieve her son.
That was when the distinct sound of a taser being deployed could be heard. Skidmore said that the baby flew out of Brown’s hands as he was tased.
“I had to catch the baby,” Skidmore said. “I was in the street talking with the cops. I had to come over. The taser is on this side of him, and the baby is over here. As soon as they start tasing him the baby flew out of his hands and I had to grab him, or he would have fell.”
“Did they tase him with the baby in his hand?” someone can be heard shouting in disbelief.
Brown is tased multiple times as the witnesses argue.
“Y’all still tasing him man!” a male voice could be heard protesting.
“So what, get back!” a Westland officer says stepping toward the camera.
Brown was ultimately arrested and taken into custody.
Westland Police released a statement on Monday regarding the incident saying:
On August 17th Westland Police Officers were dispatched to an address on Belding 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.