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Protesters gather, Washtenaw County deputy placed on leave after alleged use of excessive force

A Washtenaw County Sheriff Deputy has been placed on administrative leave as an investigation is conducted into a video recorded incident showing him apparently punching a woman in the head for refusing to leave the scene of a shooting.

The deputy, who is white, is seen repeatedly punching the African American woman, Sha’Teina Grady El, in the head at the scene of a recent Ypsilanti Township shooting because she refused to leave the scene as ordered by police.

Upon seeing the video, Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton says he launched an immediate investigation.

“So when I see it I thought why is he doing that? Why would he do that? Why would anybody respond in that way? I can’t see what she is doing, so it is incumbent upon us to investigate that,” Clayton said.

Sheriff Clayton says he has spent the last decade trying to repair the culture and relationship police have with the community, which is even more personally difficult for him as an African American Sheriff.

He says there are no easy answers, adding he is sensitive to the trauma and the anger and the rage people have from this incident.

A large group of protesters gathered Thursday in Ann Arbor in response to the actions seen on the video. It was the third day they gathered. More protests are planned.

young man holding a sign
Credit Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Christopher Kitchen

The demonstrators chanted "Hands up, don't shoot" and "Free Sha’Teina" as they made their way down Washtenaw Avenue near Carpenter Road.

"I came out here today to support Sha'Teina because I just think that when people in our community face inequalities and wrongdoing at the hands of community members that we need to ban together and fight for what's right," said demonstrator Christopher Kitchen.

Other demonstators referred to instances of violence across the country, most recently the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

"It was important because a lot of this is happening all over the world and it seems like we're not getting heard at all. That was totally uncalled for," Tahiri Brown said. "And we, as the black community, is getting tired, we're getting scared. We're having to tell our sons or all of our family to go outside and be careful, be cautious. And that's not fair. We live in the land that's supposed to be the free, and we're getting treated like animals daily."

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Jodi is Michigan Public's Director of Digital Audiences, leading and developing the station’s overall digital strategy.
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