Protesters gather after Washtenaw County deputy punches woman in Ypsilanti Township

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 3:46pm

Protesters gathered Tuesday afternoon after Washtenaw County deputy punched woman in Ypsilanti Township.

Protesters gathered Tuesday afternoon after Washtenaw County deputy punched woman in Ypsilanti Township. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

Protesters gathered at the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office in Ypsilanti Township on Tuesday afternoon after a video emerged of a white Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputy appearing to punch a Black woman in the head multiple times during an arrest early Tuesday, according to MLive. 

According to MLive, deputies reported to the scene of a potential shooting in Ypsilanti Township at around 12:00 a.m on Tuesday. A perimeter was formed to keep community members away from a potential shooter. Residents Sha’Teina Grady El and her husband, Dan Grady El, were ordered to leave the scene. Though other residents heeded the order, the Grady Els stayed. Police officers tried to physically remove them, MLive reported. When they resisted, a deputy punched Sha’Teina in the head and another deputy deployed a taser on her husband before taking both Grady Els into custody. The pair are at the Washtenaw County Jail and have yet to be arraigned on charges, police told MLive. 

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton told MLive the deputy shown punching Sha’Teina has been placed on administrative leave, which is paid due to union requirements.

“There is absolutely no doubt, and no argument from me, that the images in the video are disturbing,” Clayton said. “It warrants a complete investigation.”

Trishe’ Duckworth, founder and executive director of the non-profit Survivors Speak, led the protest of about three dozen community members at the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office on Hogback Road Tuesday afternoon, according to MLive. Duckworth told MLive the group was protesting the altercation and the continued incarceration of the Grady Els.

“We cannot continue to allow this,” Duckworth said. “What happens next? Is someone going to die next? Are they going to do this to (a) child? There’s just so much that can happen, so we have to take a stand.”

 A second protest is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. 

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich, released a statement on Wednesday regarding the incident. 

“The Washtenaw community is hurting,” Dingell said. “The incident that occurred this week causes all of us to search our conscience. Brutality by anyone is never ok and whenever we witness violence captured on video it is deeply disturbing.”

Dingell said Clayton is committed to a complete and thorough investigation of the incident and emphasized the work ahead to rebuild community trust. 

“We must get the facts, the process must be transparent and the appropriate people held accountable,” Dingell said. “But no matter the outcome, this incident is a very serious setback for this community. Community is strong when there is trust and respect for everyone, and that is now seriously undermined. We will all need to work together to rebuild respect, trust and strength among us. This is a very serious challenge and will require much work by all citizens.”

Clayton told MLive other staff involved in the incident were also placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. The investigation’s findings will be reviewed by an external agency. The department will also undergo a “use of force” training to prevent incidents in the future. 

Summer News Editor Calder Lewis can be reached at calderll@umich.edu.