Police in a Detroit suburb are under fire after viral video emerged of an officer pinning a black Amazon delivery driver to the ground during an arrest after he had parked his delivery van on the wrong side of the street while delivering a package. The officer has reportedly been placed on paid leave while an internal investigation is under way.
Dash cam footage released by the Warren Police Department shows the officer stopping Tuesday in a residential neighborhood to question the driver after pointing out he had parked along the curb on the residential street facing the wrong direction. The driver had stopped to deliver a package to a home and told the officer he worked for Amazon.
After walking the package to the doorstep, a struggle ensued between the driver and the officer after the former appeared to go into his pocket to retrieve his driver's license. The driver can be heard screaming, “I’m getting my license out, bro!” several times before being taken to the ground and pinned down. Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said the officer asked the driver to show his license 11 times and urged the public not to treat it as a “bad cop” incident.
The city’s mayor, Jim Fouts, who himself has dodged multiple accusations of making racist comments, initially wrote on Facebook that the officer should be fired and possibly charged. “I have zero tolerance for this disgusting act against an innocent person,” he wrote, according to a screenshot of the now-deleted post captured by ClickOnDetroit.com. “If the last two weeks have taught us anything, it is that bad behavior by ANY police officer will not be tolerated!”
But Fouts deleted that post, which ended in an all-caps “BLACK LIVES MATTER!!,” upon Dwyer’s request. He replaced it with a statement saying, in part, “I received several phone calls earlier regarding this incident requiring me to make a statement that any type of aggressive behavior is not tolerated. I was upset that one individual could possibly besmirch the fine reputation of Warren police officers.”
Fox 2 reports that Dwyer is now recommending felony charges for the driver of resisting arrest, failing to obey a lawful command and failure to produce a driver’s license. The driver was arrested and taken away, and another Amazon employee had to come and retrieve the delivery van.
The station quoted resident Diana Gouim as saying the driver had put the package in her hands.
“And he was so polite to my neighbor, he offered to put it on the chair for her because it was heavy," said neighbor Geri Cheatham. She said of the police response with backup officers, “It was ridiculous for one little kid that was the size of me."
“We, several of the neighbors, spoke with the officer saying the kid hasn't done anything and the cop was like, well, 'He was parked the wrong way,'” said another witness, Jim Michaels.
“He was scared. He was scared. I don’t blame him. My heart was pounding because it could have gotten out of control totally,” Cheatham said.
Amazon spokeswoman Deborah Bass said, “We see what others see in this video, and it’s unacceptable. We expect a swift investigation and full accountability for those involved. Amazon will deploy all necessary resources to investigate the matter with our Delivery Service Provider, as well as to represent and support the driver."