By Jim Bloch
Two Detroit television stations have reported on a Port Huron police officer punching a man who appears to be inebriated.
WDIV Channel 4 aired the story on Feb. 23 and showed what appeared to be body cam footage of the incident which occurred in November.
FOX 2 Detroit aired the story the same night.
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The video shows four Port Huron police officers confronting a man, called “Charles” in the footage, who seems to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
According to the FOX 2 narrative posted online, the man says: “I’m not going to jail. I’m going to kick all four of your (expletives),” he says to them. At that point, the police officer punches the man before taking him to the ground. “I told y’all I was not going to (expletive) swing,” said the man while he was being arrested. “I’m not going to let you swing at me, Charles,” the officer says.
FOX 2 said that local resident Kevin Lindke obtained the video. Reporter Ingrid Kelley and online producer David Komer identify Lindke as a “social activist.”
Kelley interviewed Lindke in the segment.
“I was as appalled as everybody else is,” Lindke says. “In today’s climate it’s very disheartening to see this happening with a police officer.”
In the report, Lindke says: “I have some attorneys who have contacted me about this and they want to speak with (the man who was punched) and initiate some civil litigation.”
The report goes on to say: “But Lindke has concerns because the father of the police officer involved in this punching incident is a partner in the law firm which represents the city.”
Neither WDIV or FOX 2 identify the officer.
Lindke, however, names the officer as “Ofc. Tristan Shoudy” on his Facebook group called “Through My Eyes.”
The FOX 2 reporter contacted the Port Huron law firm of Fletcher, Fealko, Shoudy & Francis, P.C. for comment. Fletcher tells the station: “To me, it is an obvious conflict of interest,” said attorney Gary Fletcher. The firm’s senior partner tells Fox 2 they just became aware of the incident this week and would not represent the city if a lawsuit were filed. Fletcher says he has seen the video. “Yes, and I don’t want to comment on my reaction to it,” he said. “The video speaks for itself.”
WDIV quoted PHPD: “We were upset and concerned with our officer’s actions during this incident,” said Port Huron Police Chief (Joe Platzer) in a release. “We take the use of force very seriously. We will continue to hold ourselves to these standards and when we fall short — we will be held accountable.”
FOX 2 showed a copy of PHPD Assistant Chief Brian Kerrigan’s statement in its news segment.
“All incidents that require use of force are reviewed by police supervision,” reads Kerrigan’s release in part. “This incident was reviewed in November and the supervisor’s review found that the officer’s actions violated department policy. An internal investigation was initiated immediately. While the incident was being investigated the involved officer was placed on paid administrative leave. At the conclusion of the internal investigation the officer was disciplined. The officer also received additional training in subject control and de-escalation techniques.”
Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.