The resemblance is uncanny. 11-year-old Honestie Hodges is the spitting image of suspect 40-year-old Carrie Manning, who was wanted for allegedly stabbing her little sister at a home a few blocks away and was believed to be armed with a knife. At least that’s what police in Michigan believe when they converged on Hodges leaving out of the backdoor of her home. At least a dozen Grand Rapids cops with guns drawn terrified Hodges mistaking her for Manning and it was caught on body camera.
“It made me feel scared and it made me feel like I did something wrong,” Honestie Hodges told 24 Hour News 8 on Monday. “They had police cars over on this street, they had police cars all along the alley.”
The incident occurred Wednesday and according to Hodges, police with guns drawn ordered her to to walk backwards with her hands up. Police then handcuffed her, patted her down and stuck her in the back of a patrol vehicle.
(Because she so closely resembles the suspect that they are after, right?)
The Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) admits to handcuffing Honestie anyway despite the fact that she didn’t fit the description. To make downplay, or maybe double down on, the mistake officers detained two other women who exited the home with her. GRPD justified their detention in a press release Monday night saying that “officers detained the women and Honestie because it had not yet been determined that none of them were the suspect” even though the child again did not match the description.
“The whole time they are telling her to come down, I’m telling them, ‘She’s 11 years old. That’s my daughter. Don’t cuff her,’” Honestie’s mom, Whitney Hodges, said.
“When my mom was walking past, I was putting my hands through the little bars, banging on the windows, screaming, ‘Please don’t let them take me,’” Honestie remembered.
The GRPD police chief has since condemned the actions of the officers calling it “inappropriate” for some of his officers to hold an 11-year-old girl at gunpoint and handcuff her outside her home while searching for an attempted murder suspect. Chief David Rahinsky said hearing the girl’s screams on bodycam video made him “physically nauseous” and that the situation was “a discredit to the way the community is being served.”
Bodycam video played during the news conference shows officers searching for Manning confront Honestie, who was leaving her home to walk to the store. The officers can be seen telling her to walk backward with her hands up and then handcuffing her, patting her down and putting her in the back of a police cruiser as she screamed wildly.
“The screams of the 11-year-old, they go to your heart,” Rahinsky said after a portion of the video was shown. “You hear the mother yelling from the steps, ‘That’s my child!’ That’s our community’s child. That’s someone who lives in Grand Rapids. That’s someone who should feel safe running to an officer.”
The Michigan police chief conceded that there was a problem in the police department and suggested more training as well as changes to the hiring process as well as supervision. “We need to look at everything, from our hiring to our training to our supervision,” he said. “What we’re going to look at is when is it appropriate for discretion to override practice and protocol in dealing with an 11-year-old.”
“If an officer can point to policy, or can point to training, or point to hiring and say, ‘This is what I was told, this is how I was taught, this is consistent with practice,’ then we’ve got a problem,” he said. “And what I just said is accurate. We do have a problem.”
Members of the Michigan community is outraged after release of the body camera footage. At a commission meeting Tuesday, residents expressed their distrust in the GRPD and demanded the city do something drastic to prevent similar mistreatment of minorities.
“Why are black children not black children? Why are they just others? ‘Cause they’re getting treated like animals,” resident LaDonna Norman said.
Hodges grandmother Alisa Niemeyer said, ““I’m speaking this evening because we must repair relationships between our community and the Grand Rapids Police Department. Unfortunately, my granddaughter has lost her innocence because of this incident and that is unacceptable.”
“This falls into the hiring mechanism, this falls into cultural competency training and these are the core issues that … first we were compassionately talking about it, then we were more vocal. Now, we’re downright enraged about it,” Senior Pastor Jerry Bishop of Lifequest Ministries said.
Hodges, who previously wanted to be a detective when she got older, only had one question for police.
“Why they did that me?”