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Michigan Cop Sanctioned After Using Chokehold During Altercation

A police officer in Michigan has been formally sanctioned after body cam footage caught him using a chokehold on a young man earlier this summer.

Sergeant Derrick Turner with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) was on patrol in north-central Kalamazoo when he came upon Antonio Churchwell and a friend sitting in front of a house on July 10, 2017. Churchwell apparently refused to remove one of his hands from his pants pocket and was then arrested by Turner. Video captures the entirety of that encounter and is available here, but what happened next landed Turner in trouble, as seen in the player above.

No less than six police vehicles can be seen swarming the area, and Antonio Churchwell’s older brother Diante arrives and requests to speak to the arresting officer. His requests are initially polite but he soon grows agitated as police tell him to wait. Things escalated quickly.

Churchwell saunters up to Turner, imploring him to “do something” a few times over. Turner complies. He grabs Churchwell by the throat–a prohibited use of force–and then arrests him. Diante and Antonio’s father then met with officers at KDPS headquarters and was shown the video of his son being choked. The Churchwell family then filed a complaint over the incident which was investigated by the department’s Office of Professional Standards.

Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley issued a statement after that investigation concluded. He said:

I did sustain the complaint and found that Sgt. Turner violated the Use of Force Policy by utilizing “a subject control method not taught or recommended”. Sgt. Turner was given a Written Reprimand by me for this violation of KDPS Policy.

Turner, a 10-year veteran of the force, won’t be sanctioned further because Hadley determined that his actions were not “malicious or egregious.” This outcome isn’t quite acceptable to some community members.

Reverend Strick Strickland, president of the Kalamazoo chapter of the NAACP told MLive.com:

“I’m not mad. I’m not angry. I’m disappointed…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.”

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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