Family of girl handcuffed by Grand Rapids police sue for ‘mental anguish’

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of a girl who, at age 11, was held at gunpoint by Grand Rapids police, handcuffed and placed in a cruiser, is suing the city for an incident they claim left the child with “trauma for the remainder of her short lifetime.’’

The federal lawsuit was filed on Wednesday — three years after Honestie Hodges died of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 14.

The lawsuit lists as defendants the city of Grand Rapids, former police chief David Rahinsky and three police officers.

“Honestie had a legitimate fear that she would be shot and killed,” the lawsuit claims.

Honestie’s name became well-known in Grand Rapids in December of 2017 after she was stopped and detained by Grand Rapids police outside her home. The girl, her mother and another relative were headed to the store when they were confronted by police with guns drawn.

Family, commissioner outraged after girl cuffed by GRPD

Officers had been looking for a woman involved in a domestic assault.

Honestie, who was crying, was put in handcuffs for two minutes and placed in a police cruiser without handcuffs for 10 minutes, police have said.

Allegations in the lawsuit include unreasonable search and seizure, excessive force, assault and battery, false imprisonment and failure to train and supervise officers.

Due to actions and inactions by the defendants, “Honestie Hodges suffered serious mental anguish, anxiety, emotional distress, a sense of outrage, loss of social pleasure and enjoyment and death,’’ the lawsuit claims.

The chain of events unfolded the evening of Dec. 6, 2017. Grand Rapids police had been searching for a 40-year-old woman in connection with a stabbing.

“Honestie Hodges, an 11-year-old and African American, did not in any way fit the description of the GRPD’s suspect, who was an adult Caucasian woman,’’ the lawsuit states. “Honestie was cooperative and responsive to the officers, even though terrified by the circumstances.’’

The girl was “nervous, afraid and deathly fearful for her safety and also the well-being of her family,’’ according to the 33-page lawsuit.

GRPD chief nauseated by screams of girl cuffed by officers

There was a community outcry when news of the incident spread. At a news conference, Rahinsky, who was chief at the time but has since retired, said the girl’s tearful reaction “makes my stomach turn; it makes me physically nauseous.’’

Bodycam footage shows police handcuffing the girl as an officer repeatedly tells the crying girl she’s not being arrested.

The police department said an internal investigation of the incident found the officers didn’t violate department policy.

In March of 2018, the police department adopted what it called the “Honestie Policy,’’ which calls for using the least restrictive option when dealing with youths.

The lawsuit seeks in excess of $75,000 as well as damages under the wrongful death act.

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