Grandmother demands answers after Michigan police officer punches teenager 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.
The video left a tight-knit community stunned and demanding answers. The grandmother of the boy, Tommie Wright, spoke with Local 4, appealing for an explanation.
Wright has been taking care of Da'veon Cieslack since he was 3 years old.
"He has got a beautiful personality," Wright said. "He's always smiling, always grinning."
Cislack was born with cerebral palsy and has been diagnosed with several mental health issues -- he was slow to learn to walk and talk. As he gets older, it's been increasingly difficult for his grandma to care for him during his outbursts.
"I've called the school," Wright said. "I've asked for help, but they were said they were giving me all the help they could give."
Wright claimed Albion police told her to call them whenever she needs help.
"They would talk to Da'veon," Wright said. "They would talk to him for about an hour and they would leave."
In the past four years, she's called 38 times, but on Nov. 24, 2018, Albion police couldn't calm Cieslack down.
"He wanted to go somewhere as usual and it was getting dark," Wright said. "I told him he couldn't go but he insisted he'd go anyway. So, I said, 'I'm going to call the police,' and he said, 'Go ahead.'"
Police found Cieslack in the garage, handcuffed him and put him in the police car. Wright heard her grandson screaming for help and begging for another chance, but Albion police Officer Tyler Collins said he wasn't going to let him go, threatening to put him in a juvenile detention facility.
"I thought it was terrible," Wright said through tears. "They shouldn't have done that like that. He was begging the police, 'Please, don't take me.'"
When police opened the car door before leaving, a violent struggle ensued. The teenager was punched by Collins at least seven times while his hands were still cuffed behind his back and was pepper-sprayed.
Wright knows her grandson can be a struggle to manage when he's upset and so do the police who have come to her home about once a month in the past year.
"They told me to call them," Wright said. "That's why I call them so much, because it's nobody but me and I don't know what to do."
During past encounters, police would coax Cieslack into cooperating gently, Wright said. That's what she was expecting.
"Those police need something done to them," Wright said. "Other than get fired, they need to go to jail like Da'veon."
Collins has been let go by the Albion police. Prosecutors reviewed the case, but did not issue any criminal charges.
A community rally is being held Thursday at 7 p.m. at Albion City Hall.
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