Human Resources and Law

Officer reprimanded for throat-grabbing

August 18, 2017
| By AP |
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A police sergeant in the region has been reprimanded for grabbing a man by the throat during an arrest.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said earlier this week that Sgt. Derrick Turner has been written up and spoken to about the July incident. He said Turner had every right to control an “aggressive manner” but that he violated the agency's use of force policy.

“I did not find the actions by Sgt. Turner to be malicious or egregious,” Hadley added.

Police said Turner was arresting Antonio Churchwell, 17, when his brother, Diante Churchwell, 20, approached the officer.

“You're just killing him, bro,” Diante Churchwell said to Turner, who was in a struggle with Antonio Churchwell. The confrontation was captured on a police body camera.

Hadley said Turner grabbed Diante Churchwell's neck and arrested him.

"(Body cam) video clearly captured Diante's aggravated emotional state in his body language, as well as verbal language, which a reasonable person/officer would feel an assault is probable,” Hadley said.

Hadley said Turner accepted responsibility for the confrontation and is “committed to learning from this incident and moving forward.”

Local NAACP President the Rev. Strick Strickland said he's disappointed by the officer's punishment and hopes to discuss the matter with department officials.

“We said initially that we were looking for accountability and also looking to make sure that there was no double-standard,” he said, comparing police officers to other citizens. “However, if I put my hands around your neck it's an assault; if you put your hands around my neck, it's an assault. But if KDPS puts their hands around your neck it's a written reprimand. I find that to be unacceptable and distasteful at the least.”

Both brothers have been released. Diante Churchwell is charged with attempted assaulting police, and Antonio Churchwell's charges have been dropped.

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