A Michigan police department will conduct a legal review after photographs showing shooting targets with the images of Black men on them were taken at the department’s practice area.
The photographs were taken during a Boy Scouts field trip to the Farmington Hills police department in April, prompting allegations of racial bias after the images showed targets of Black men holding weapons and children gathered around one of the targets.
Policing in the US has come under immense criticism after a series of police shootings of often unarmed Black men that have led to anti-racism protests. Over the weekend video emerged of police killing Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio, after he fled the scene of a car chase. Walker was shot dozens of times by multiple police officers despite running away and being apparently unarmed at the time police opened fire.
The family that made the allegations in Michigan does not want to be identified for fear of reprisal, according to local attorney Dionne Webster-Cox.
“This community does not need an overly aggressive police officer who wants to flex his authority,” said Webster-Cox in a Facebook post. “No matter how many defenses the police offer to justify this incident, to have school children or adults exposed to this practice is ignorance.”
In a council meeting in late June, the department’s police chief, Jeff King, issued an apology, and said the images were intended to represent a mix of both threat and non-threat targets.
“I’ll take this one on the chin, I apologize to each and every person in this room, this community, my department, my city council, my city manager,” said King.
King added that the human depictions were in compliance with the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, and that the targets used during the training are 85% Caucasian and 15% Black.
The legal review will analyze the department’s target demographics and how the police officers use the targets. King said that any future visits from community organizations will receive an explanation on how targets are selected. He also apologized to the Boy Scouts troop for not providing a full explanation of the targets.
The targets have been removed from the practice area, according to city officials.
“I don’t see a good reason to use those targets at all,” said councilman Michael Bridges during the council meeting in June.