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Internal investigation determines Grand Rapids police officer used unreasonable force during downtown riot

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Posted at 9:58 AM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 10:06:38-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Police Department determined through an internal investigation that the officer who fired a flashbang at a man during the downtown riot in May used unreasonable force.

The officer, Phillip Reinink, was suspended for two days without pay, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne said during a press conference Tuesday.

Video from that night shows Reinink pepper spraying a man before firing a canister at him near Fulton Street and Division Avenue.

Police say Reinink fired the wrong canister, a flashbang versus a muzzle blast, because the two look so similar.

The man, Sean Hart, had been driving near the intersection, blasting music with a crowd gathering around his vehicle and had been told to leave. Hart soon parked his vehicle near Veterans Park and began approaching officers, and some feared he might assault the officers, according to the Grand Rapids Police Department.

Hart told investigators that none of the officers had said anything to him, only pointed the “flashbang gun” at him, which “infuriated” him, police said.

Payne said the department will work with larger agencies so the canisters do not look so similar, and that they’re reviewing policies on the use of force and other possible changes.

Watch the press conference: