Michigan sheriff: Woman hit by deputy had bitten him first

Protesters march in the streets towards U.S. 23 and cross into Ann Arbor, Mich., Thursday, May 28, 2020, during a protest for Sha'Teina Grady El, an Ypsilanti woman who was punched repeatedly in the head by a Washtenaw County Sheriff's deputy last weekend. (Nicole Hester/Ann Arbor News via AP) (Nicole Hester, Nicole Hester/Mlive.com)

DETROIT – A black woman who was seen on video being punched by a Michigan sheriff's deputy bit the officer before she was struck, the sheriff said Friday.

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton played video and audio from the confrontation with Sha’Teina Grady El, which occurred Tuesday night while deputies were investigating a shooting in Ypsilanti Township.

Some officers have been placed on leave while the incident is under investigation. Clayton acknowledged that trust with the community, west of Detroit, has been “fractured." He said he wanted to share as much information as possible.

He played video and audio that was recorded on body cameras. The confrontation with Grady El began when she apparently ignored an order to leave the scene of the shooting as a perimeter was formed.

"You might not be able to hear that but he says, ‘You’re biting me.' You can see the fresh bite mark” on his forearm, Clayton told reporters as images were played on a screen.

The body cam doesn't show the deputy striking Grady El because they were so close together, the sheriff said. But someone with a phone recorded it.

“We're not deciding right or wrong in any of this. ... We'll wait until those investigations are complete," Clayton said.

He said the use of force depends on the situation, but “we do not have it written that you can never punch.”

While under arrest, Grady El used a string of profanities against the officers and vowed “you’ll have nothing" after she sues them. She said their actions violated treaties between the U.S. and Morocco.

“If he was bit, I promise she didn't initiate anything. She was fighting back while being brutalized,” said Grady El's attorney, Bill Amadeo.

Hundreds of people have protested at the sheriff's office this week in response to the phone video of Grady El being hit.

Grady El has two unrelated cases pending in Wayne County, including a charge of resisting police in Canton Township.

She was released from the Wayne County jail on Friday. An arrest warrant had been issued because she had failed to appear at a court hearing, said Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office.