DETROIT – Protesters on Wednesday called for criminal charges to be brought against two police officers who appear to be white who were caught on video beating and kicking a black carjacking suspect during an arrest.
The video of Monday's arrest, which was captured by a Detroit resident and posted on Facebook, shows the two officers taking turns kneeling forcefully on the back of the suspect, who was lying face-down on a snowy sidewalk, and beating and kicking him. They beat the 51-year-old suspect before and after he was handcuffed.
"It was despicable. It was horrible and it was barbaric, and it certainly was not professional," Ron Scott, the director of The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, which organized the small protest, told The Associated Press. "This was especially deplorable given the circumstances we are facing in the nation at this point with Michael Brown being shot and police brutality."
The killings of Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City last summer touched off protests and a national debate over the treatment of black Americans by the police. Both Brown and Garner were black and unarmed, and the officers who killed them were white.
The officers involved in Monday's arrest on Detroit's northwest side, who appear in the video to be white, have not been publicly identified. They are members of an auto theft task force that includes police from Grosse Pointe Park, Harper Woods and Highland Park. They were tracking a vehicle carjacked earlier in the day, according to a Grosse Pointe Park police department news release.
"During the carjacking, the armed subject pointed a gun at a mother and her two children and ordered them out of the vehicle," the department said. "He threatened to shoot them if they failed to comply."
The officers followed the vehicle and chased the man a quarter-mile after he got out of the car in Detroit. According to police, the suspect resisted arrest and an attempt to subdue him with a stun gun failed because he was wearing heavy clothing.
"The subject continued to reach for the area of his waistband and refused all orders to show his hands," the department said. "Fearing for their safety and those in the immediate area, an officer delivered a kick to the thigh area of the subject thus allowing the other officers the ability to arrest the subject. Located in his waistband was a loaded semi-automatic handgun."
The news release doesn't mention that the suspect was also beaten after he was handcuffed.
The task force presented a warrant Wednesday to the Wayne County prosecutor's office asking it to press charges against the carjacking suspect.
The Associated Press isn't naming him because he hadn't been charged in the alleged carjacking as of late Wednesday afternoon. Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said the man could be charged with violating parole for a 2004 armed robbery conviction. The man was released from prison in 2013 and hasn't been in contact with parole officials since last April.
The state police will investigate the officers' actions. The Associated Press left messages Wednesday with the Grosse Pointe Park police department and an attorney for the city of Highland Park to determine whether the two officers in the video will remain on duty during the state police investigation.
The Coalition for Justice and Fairness to Reform Law Enforcement, which counts the Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan among its members, issued a statement denouncing the beating.
"Certainly, police officers have the right to apprehend, secure, and protect themselves and the public from suspects involved in criminal activities," the group said. "However, it is most disturbing to see an individual handcuffed on the ground while a police officer sits on his back, who after being apprehended, is still punched in the head and kicked by an officer on the scene."