Flint man claims police beat him up after crash; officers say he resisted

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 5:28 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (10/7/2020) - A Flint man took to Facebook to share upsetting photos of his bruised and broken face.

Deangelo Bowman said Flint police officers beat him up while responding to a report that he crashed his car into a tree.

The social media post garnered a lot of attention, including more than 1,000 shares and hundreds of comments -- many of those from community members angry with Flint police.

Flint Police Chief Terence Green and Bowman agreed to speak one-on-one with ABC12 News to share their account of what happened.

Green said the incident happened around 4 a.m. Sunday. He said officers responded to a report of a car crashed into a tree at Robert T. Longway Boulevard and Commerce Street near Dort Highway in Flint.

The driver of that vehicle, Bowman, allegedly was driving drunk when he hit the tree. What happened next is where there’s some disagreement.

“I’m angry, mad, hurt, sad. I’m like it’s surreal for real,” Bowman said.

He told ABC12 News he has cuts to his head and face, a fractured nose, taser burns on his back, a busted lip and he can barely open his eyes.

“Any person in their right mind knows, if you claim you pull up on an accident, the first thing you supposed to do is call an ambulance -- like call the paramedics,” Bowman said.

But instead, he said, the officers pulled him out of the car and beat him up.

Green said Bowman’s injuries actually are from the crash and from resisting arrest. Green said that when officers arrived, they found Bowman unconscious with injuries on his face and the car still in drive.

Green said a drunk Bowman woke up as officers were pulling him from the car and he fought back.

“He became combative. They finally get him out of the vehicle, attempted to handcuff him, he continued to struggle and be combative and resist officers” Green said.

He said officers used pepper spray when Bowman kept fighting. They tased Bowman when that didn’t work, allowing them to handcuff him and put Bowman into the police car.

Bowman was taken to Hurley Medical Center, along with a Flint police officer. Green said Bowman bit the officer during the struggle.

When ABC12 News sat down with Bowman on Wednesday, he admitted he was driving drunk Sunday, but he isn’t sure about crashing into the tree, biting the officer or resisting arrest.

“Nothing is wrong with my car. No airbags deployed. I don’t even have to go to no shop to get my car looked at,” Bowman said.

He believes the officers, who are both white, used excessive and unnecessary force.

“I want to see them being held accountable for what they did,” Bowman said. “It’s simple. I want to see that black lives matter I want to see that we have a spot somewhere. I want to see that we get justice served to us.”

Green said his officers did nothing wrong.

“I had the supervisor -- initial supervisors -- review it, lieutenants, captain, assistant chief, internal affairs and then finally me. They report the findings to me. I’ll also review all the documents," Green said. "I reviewed, myself, the incident report to see if there is any, if there are any -- that I felt there was any violation of policy and procedures and at this point, no.”

There is dash cam footage and audio. Green hasn’t seen it himself, but he was told the footage doesn’t capture everything because of how the officers' vehicles were positioned.

“But, reviewing those by our Internal Investigation Unit, there’s nothing to contradict what the officers wrote in their original reports,” Green said.

ABC12 News has asked for that dash cam footage multiple times. Green denied the request, saying the matter remains under investigation.

Bowman filed his own complaint Wednesday.

The Genesee County Prosecutor’s Officer has not announced whether criminal charges will be filed against Bowman for this incident. He was initially lodged in the Genesee County Jail on Sunday morning with preliminary charges of resisting and obstructing a police officer, drunk driving and assaulting an officer.

Bowman said this incident is one of many reasons why Flint police need body cameras. Without the dash cam footage showing exactly what happened, he said the investigation boils down to his word against multiple officers.

Green agrees body cameras are necessary. He’s looking at how an already financially-strapped city can get the technology for their police department.

The President of the Black Lives Matters Flint Chapter joined Bowman during his interview with ABC12 News Wednesday. DeWaun Robinson offered support for Bowman, but also stressed the importance of accountability for police incidents like this one.

“The police are not really credible in these times. So we don’t go for just with being said in the report or just because officials said this is what happened. We’re going to do our own community investigation and that’s what this is about, to seek the truth,” Robinson said.

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