Police in south suburban Lansing are investigating after a video appearing to show an off-duty police officer holding down and threatening a black teenager sparked outrage on social media.
“I CAN’T even do this to MY OWN kids, if I grabbed my son around the neck while straddling him and telling him I will kill him, for (insert reason) I will be arrested!!,” one person commented on Facebook. “For multiple charges including but not limited to child abuse, terrorist threats, assault with intent!!! Come on Lansing PD! We are all watching!!!”
The statement from police read: “The Lansing Police Department is aware of the video that has been subsequently posted on social media regarding the incident, and had initiated an investigation into the matter prior to its public posting.”
That video had been shared on social media nearly 3 million times as of Wednesday afternoon.
Police said they were called about 3:45 p.m. Saturday to reports of a fight involving a number of juveniles at 192nd and Oakwood, a statement from police said.
In the aftermath of the brawl, an off-duty Lansing officer found a backpack in his fenced-in backyard with a “baseball hat and realistic looking BB gun inside,” police said.
A white teen then came into the yard bleeding from the face, police said. The 15-year-old said he “was involved in a fight in which he was beaten up by several male black juveniles”
Another teen, a 15-year-old black boy, then came into the yard, also wearing a backpack, police said. Both boys “attempted to leave” but the officer told them to wait for police.
When they refused to stay and attempted to leave, the officer “physically detained one of the juveniles,” the black boy, while the other filmed the incident with his cellphone.
The officer can be heard threatening the boy, while the other teen pleads for him to be released.
The boys were turned over to the responding officers, and later taken to their homes pending further investigation.
The video, which has been shared hundred of thousands of times on social media, shows the officer straddling the boy and holding him to the ground, appraently choking and threatening to hit him.
A relative of the boy being held wrote on Facebook: “So this is what happens when you walk on someone’s grass. My little cousin is damn near killed. This guy is a LANSING POLICE OFFICER and our family can’t get anywhere filing a report on him. I reed FB to share and share, this needs to go VIRAL!! I’m sick of walking while black being a problem! As you can hear his friend videoing is not black but he’s not being harassed!!”
As of Wednesday, Lansing police said the officer in the video remains on active duty, and no charges have been filed in the case.
The original brawl, which a 911 caller said involved up to 30 juveniles, had already ended when police arrived in the area.
But a 12-year-old black boy told officers he was in the area with friends when a 15-year-old male white boy “gave him a beverage that may have contained drugs in it. The juvenile became scared and went home and told his family…”
The younger boy’s older brother returned to the park and confronted the white boy, leading to a “physical altercation, resulting in the white male juvenile being struck in the face repeatedly and receiving minor injuries,” police said.
That boy and other juveniles then ran away.
Police said interviews eventually determined there were no drugs involved. They are asking anyone with “direct information” about the incident to call (708) 895-7150.