Why didn't Michigan officer face charges for punching handcuffed teen with mental health issues?
Video apparently shows Albion officer repeatedly punching 13-year-old
ALBION, Mich. – A Local 4 Defenders exclusive video showed a 13-year-old with special needs being punched and pepper-sprayed by a Michigan police officer. Now, the Defenders are digging for answers and asking why the officer never faced charges.
Local 4 has learned more about body cam video that apparently shows Albion police Officer Tyler Collins repeatedly punching a handcuffed 13-year-old who suffers from mental health issues.
The officer in the video was fired but not charged with a crime, and many people in the community are wondering why he wasn't charged. Residents are also asking if police are properly trained to handle people with mental health issues.
Collins was placed on leave immediately after the incident. Michigan State Police conducted an independent investigation and turned it over to the Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office, which didn't find enough evidence to charge Collins with a crime.
The Albion police chief fired Collins anyway for violating department policies.
"Please give me one more chance. I have church tomorrow. Just give me one more chance. I'll do anything," Da'veon Cieslack pleads in the video. "I'll even clean up the police cars for you guys. I'll do anything."
"Stop banging, alright? You are not getting out," Collins can be heard saying.
Video shows Collins punching Cieslack while the 13-year-old's hands were cuffed behind his back.
Eusebio Solice is Cieslack's attorney. He said Cieslack should have been treated like a patient, not a prisoner.
Cieslack was clearly resisting arrest in the video, and officials said he posed a threat to himself and the officers.
Mental health experts said the best thing to do is call for backup. They said six people is ideal: one for each leg and arm, one for the head and one to direct commands.
In this case, the two officers handled the situation on their own. Collins used punches and pepper spray to get the teen back in the squad car.
Albion is a small town of about 8,000 residents an hour and a half west of Detroit. Even though the incident happened five months ago, the public didn't seem to know because there was nothing in the local papers and the video was never released.
Local 4 showed residents the video.
"All that was unnecessary," resident Cybill Sanders said.
"As long as they are handcuffed, I don't think they should be beating him," resident Cathy said. "I can't tell you how they can do any better, but I don't think they should be beating them."
Many residents thought it was wrong that the teenager was charged while Collins was not.
"If he is handicapped, I don't know why they are charging him," resident Jim Snyder said.
"I think they ought to go to jail, too," Sanders said. "I think they ought to, but they are not going to."
Local 4 Defender Kevin Dietz went to the police department which has fewer than 20 officers. The chief wouldn't go on camera but issued his first public statement, confirming Collins has been fired for violating numerous department policies.
"You have a couple of officers, one in particular, Tyler Collins, who got frustrated," Solice said.
Solice believes punching a handicapped 13-year-old with mental illness is assault.
"I don't know what kind of training they have," Solice said. "My guess is zero training."
The Albion police chief said four of his officers are in training this week to learn new strategies for responding to mental health runs. He said Collins was one of four officers who received similar training in the past two years.
Cieslack was sentenced to a year of probation for resisting arrest.
The police chief said they have been to Cieslack's home 38 times in the past four years to help settle him down. On six of those occasions, they had to arrest Cieslack and bring him to juvenile detention, he said.
Cieslack has become increasingly difficult in the past year, the chief said.
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