Officer accused of using excessive force during arrest
BENTON HARBOR—Community members confront city officials calling for change after body cam video was shared by ABC57 Monday.
The body cam and surveillance video shows Benton Harbor police Officer Drew Wagner chasing, tasing, and punching 27-year-old Michael Thompson 3 times on December 28th, 2019.
This started with a traffic stop that turned into an on-foot chase ending at a Marathon Gas Station with Wagner hitting Thompson.
The video released has sparked controversy from Thompson’s family, other supporters, and Thompson himself who submitted a hand written complaint of excessive and unnecessary force.
However, Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis says that is not true and that the struggle was not over.
McGinnis says Thompson was trying to pull the taser prongs out of his back.
Tuesday night, Benton Harbor City Commissioners held a meeting addressing the community on the video and the ensuing investigation.
Mayor Marcus Muhammad urged the community to hold fast because he is confident in the in-depth investigation of this case.
“But I would also ask that we look at the whole picture” says Mayor Muhammad, “Because it’s a teaching moment and a learning opportunity because there is a responsibility on the citizen and resident but there is also responsibility on staff and public safety.”
However many community members took to the stand and told the council demanding answers.
“He did not deserve to be hit. Once he was down he wasn’t a threat to anybody” says one community member.
Another followed up with, “We can’t just sit here and let stuff happen. We’ve got to stand up because we know what’s going on.”
“He was pulling the prongs out he was in pain. So not once did I see Michael retaliate. He was in pain” says a woman present, “So you know to me it was excessive. It really was excessive.”
“Let’s get back to what we need to do for somebody before one of y’all gets killed” said one man speaking to the council.