DETROIT (WJBK) – Detroit Police Chief James Craig said on Thursday that he is concerned by video that shows an officer punching a naked woman at Detroit Receiving Hospital, specifically because the woman’s back is turned and the officer continued to punch her.
Video was sent only to FOX 2 from a woman who was inside Detroit Receiving Hospital, visiting a family member. She heard the commotion break out in the hall near the room she was in and recorded video of three police officers trying to subdue the naked woman.
The woman was repeatedly punched by a Detroit Police officer while other officers tried to restrain her. It appears when she started spitting, the officer started punching. The woman who shot the video believes the woman being beaten was mentally unstable and was a patient at the hospital.
Thursday morning, Craig addressed the shocking video and said the officer started hitting her because she wasn’t compliant but that it should not have gotten to this point.
“We teach to deescalate. The video showed the suspect had had turned her back but officer continued to punch,” Craig said.
The Chief also said that the video submitted to FOX 2 does not tell the entire story and that the department is working to download body cameras.
Craig said the woman was calm when police were called to the original scene but when they arrived at the hospital, she became agitated and threatening. Craig said she had clinched fists and spit on several hospital employees. He also said she bit security staff and tried to bite the officer.
Craig said the department is conducting an investigation, as is the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. The department will provide that body cam video to the prosecutor’s office once it’s processed.
“Anytime we have to use force, it never looks good. The officer’s actions can be proper but to the community it looks bad,” he said.
Craig said the woman should have been handcuffed.
The police officer who was seen punching the woman is a corporal and an 18-year veteran of the police department and has not had any formal complaints filed against him since 2015.
Craig used the press availability to stress the importance of treating mental illness. He said the department handles roughly 500 mental health calls per month and roughly 100 of those involve someone with a weapon.
Mental illness has been an issue that Craig has stressed for months, saying more needs to be done to treat mentally ill and protect officers.
The officer, who has not been named, has been suspended with pay from the police department as police conduct their investigation.
Detroit Receiving Hospital issued this statement to FOX 2:
“The situation was escalated to the appropriate DMC authority. DRH security was notified who immediately filed an internal report and also called DPD. DPD responded to the hospital where DMC filed a report with them. ”