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GRPD officer will keep his job, despite ammunition 'mistake'

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A Grand Rapids Police officer will keep his job after firing a flash bang at a protester following the death of George Floyd.  The incident came during the riot that took place in downtown Grand Rapids on May 30th, where dozens of businesses were looted and over a hundred store front windows smashed.

After a video surfaced that showed Grand Rapids Police officer Phillip Reinink, firing a flash bang canister, point-blank, at Sean Hart, seconds after Hart had been pepper-sprayed in the face by another officer. An internal police investigation by the GRPD found that Reinink had used unreasonable force.

However, Chief of Police Eric Payne said at a news conference Tuesday morning, that Reinink did so by accident, mistaking the flash bang canister for a muzzle bang canister, a much less severe form of ammunition.

“Officer Reinink immediately recognized following his actions that he had made a mistake, a mistake that we all regret,” Payne said. “Under the pressure caused by the hostile environment, unruly crowds and the type of chaos that none of our officers in our department had never seen, (he) had mistakenly loaded and subsequently used the wrong canister. And not surprisingly since they look identical.”

While flashbangs are not typically lethal, they can cause severe damage at close range. A GRPD spokesperson at the press conference Tuesday morning displayed both a muzzle bang canister and a flash bang canister, and both were the same color and size with similar font.

Reinink received a two-day suspension without pay. The Kent County prosecutor’s office is declining to file a reckless disarming of a firearm charge.

Hart's injuries were non-life threatening.