Kent Co. undersheriff: Marijuana arrests still possible

Kent Co. undersheriff: Marijuana arrests still possible

Kent Co. Prosecutor clarifies stance on marijuana cases

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Despite news that the Kent County Prosecutor's Office will likely drop marijuana possession and use charges, the undersheriff is reminding everyone that pot is still illegal — for now.

Prosecutor Chris Becker said Thursday that his leaning toward dropping pending cases of marijuana possession and use after Proposal 1, which will legalize the recreational use of marijuana for people over 21, passed earlier this week.

Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt said that news isn't a green light to use or have marijuana without a medical marijuana card. Legalization doesn't take effect until 10 days after the votes are certified, and that may not be until December.

"Regardless of the Prop 1 law being passed, the legalization of recreational marijuana, it is still illegal today," DeWitt said.

Dewitt explained that Kent County deputies probably won't arrest misdemeanor marijuana offenders.

"More than likely, depending on what the situation is, we’re not going to make a physical arrest at that time," he explained. "We would be seizing the drugs and then evaluating the merits of that case to make a determination of whether or not we’ll even seek charges with the prosecutor's office."

They may seek charges or make arrests when other crimes are involved. There's no grey area for felony marijuana charges and driving under the influence of drugs: Those cases will still be prosecuted and it's likely you'll be arrested.

Leaders in Grand Rapids will discuss medical and recreational marijuana at a special city commission meeting on Tuesday.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A Grand Rapids schools security officer accused of slapping a Westside Middle School student in October will not be charged due to insufficient evidence, according to Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker.

Two other Grand Rapids school officers contradicted the allegation that the student was slapped, the prosecutor said in a statement.

The officer was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of law enforcements investigation and the districts internal review of the incident, according to John Helmholdt, district communications director. He said GRPS officials are still reviewing the case.

The police were called to Westwood Middle School at 10 a.m. on Oct 2, for “trouble with a person,” which was an 11-year-old male student. He was handcuffed in the office with district security when police arrived and later released to his mother.

The case was reclassified Oct. 9 as an assault after the mother said he was slapped. She emailed a cell phone picture to police of alleged finger marks on her sons cheek, but not of the best resolution, according to the police report.

The officer denies slapping the student and other security staff didnt see or hear a slap. The student was described as being unruly in the hallway, got caught in a sweep, and was sent to the media center to be signed up for detention, according to the police report.

But the student was said to be uncooperative by staff and directed to the main office and later the security office. In the office, the report says he was swearing and yelling, and became more upset after his cell phone was taken for playing loud music.

During this time, he was asked to sit down several times and reportedly walked up to the security officer a few times within an inch or so of his chest and later attempted to grab the phone back, according to the police report.

The officer told police he took the student down using a “straight armbar takeover,” and he was handcuffed.

“There is insufficient evidence to show he was slapped during the incident,” said Becker, in a statement to MLive/The Grand Rapids Press.

“Myself, and others in the office, reviewed the body camera video of the GRPD officers who responded to the scene and we were unable to see any marks on the childs face. The photo provided to us was blurry at best, there was nothing that could be used from the photograph.”

Becker said the child said he was slapped, but the two GRPS officers present denied that occurred, so there was simply not enough evidence to charge in this case.

Regarding a separate incident, the prosecutors office is still determining whether to pursue charges against a Kent Hills Elementary teacher also accused of assault.

Robert Spaeth, who was placed on administrative leave, was accused of choking a second-grader in October. Last year, he was suspended after a similar accusation  but not charged.


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