A motorist who stopped to help the injured animals says the responding officer acted inappropriately and filed a complaint.
LOWELL, Mich. — WARNING: The video above contains foul language. Viewer discretion is advised.
A West Michigan Police Department is under fire on social media for a police officer’s alleged actions earlier this week says their officer did nothing wrong, and a report is on its way to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office for further review.
Wednesday around midnight, Lowell resident Zachary Myers spotted two opossums lying in the middle of the road on Alden Nash Avenue SE. He stopped his car, positioned it in the middle of the road and turned his hazard lights on to prevent anyone else from hitting the animals.
It looked like a mother opossum had been hit and killed, while a smaller opossum was lying nearby.
Myers says another person pulled over and offered to call someone to bring supplies to capture the animals so that they could be taken to a treatment facility.
That’s when a Lowell Police Officer on patrol stopped to check out the situation.
Drivers often top 55 mph in that area, authorities said.
The officer, captured on body camera footage obtained by 13 ON YOUR SIDE, moved the opossums out of the traffic lane. The video appears to show the officer moving one of the animals with his foot into the ditch, then picking up the other one by its tail.
Myers filed a complaint against the officer, accusing the officer of cursing at him. Myers also alleges the officer kicked the baby opossum three times before carrying it off to the side of the road, which the video obtained by 13 ON YOUR SIDE does not show.
His accusation against the Lowell officer cursing at him is not corroborated by bodycam footage released at 13 ON YOUR SIDE, though the first 30 seconds of the video that includes interaction with the officer and Myers does not contain audio.
Traditionally, audio from body camera footage does not start until 30 seconds into the clip. Axon body cameras are continuously buffering, and once an officer presses the record button, the thirty preceding seconds of recording will be kept without audio.
The accusation of the officer kicking the opossum sparked an onslaught of social media outrage this week.
“Put down an opossum?” the officer asks another responding deputy.
“I feel like I could like drop kick it. But the thing is with these opossums, too, is they’ll sit here and play dead. He’s not dead.”
As the officer was leaving the scene, body camera footage captures him saying, “un-f***ing real.”
13 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to the Lowell Police Department for comment about the situation.
“While our officer used inappropriate language at the scene, it was only in the presence of a fellow deputy and after the driver had departed. The officer has been reprimanded for his language,” the Lowell Police Department said in a statement.
“We have submitted our report to the Kent County Prosecutor for an independent review. The Lowell Police Department takes all community complaints seriously and investigates them to ensure we are providing fair and responsive service.”
The allegations posted to social media also caused a police department under the same name out of Massachusetts to post a statement.
13 On Your Side reporter Andrea Flores spoke with Myers Friday evening about the incident and Myers said “So obviously I don’t believe that was the right course of action. I believe Any person with any sense of compassion would be able to look at that video and see that the, the way that the officer moved, you know, moved, that was aggressive, the kick hurt that animal, it was not moved with the foot as stated by them.”
Watch the full interview with Myers and Beth Sparks, founder of the Opossums Pouch Sanctuary below:
Watch the full body cam footage below:
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