Video of an off-duty Michigan police officer pointing a gun at Alexander Hamilton, a Black man who was delivering newspapers earlier this year has recently emerged.
Chad Vorce, a white man, was fired in May from the DeWitt Police Department after pulling his gun out on a 19-year old man, who believed was a suspect in a string of break-ins. Vorce is now appealing his termination.
Screenshot of dashcam footage of on-duty officers on the scene after an off-duty officer confronted a teen delivering newspapers
The incident occurred just shortly after 7 a.m. on Jan. 14 when the now-former police officer, who was off duty at the time, was taking his teenage son to school and saw a gray van in his neighborhood.
Vorce said he found the presence of the vehicle to be suspicious because of the recent break-ins in his area and thought the young man fit the description of the suspect. “I thought it was him because he fits the same description, black hoodie… Fricken black guy,” Vorce offered as his rationale.
Vorce approached the van in his red pickup truck and asked the teen if he needed directions. When Hamilton responded, “I’m just doing me,” Vorce, with his own teenage son still in the pickup truck, began following the van.
“Black male hanging out in the area” who “needs to be checked,” he told police dispatchers in a recording of the call. “The plate’s covered up with dirt so I can’t get it.”
Vorce later told police he thought Hamilton was trying to ram his car when the teen put his van in reverse. Hamilton told state police during an interview that his intention was to back up to speak with Vorce.
“I tried to back up and reverse around him so I could talk to him but he just kept backing up, kept backing up so I just eventually turned off and left the whole neighborhood.”
Hamilton reversed his van once again, this time Vorce responded by jumping out and pointing his gun at Hamilton. The now-former cop told dispatchers, “He’s trying to ram me!” He added, “I’m going to go shots fired if he does it again!”
Wanting to be somewhere public with witnesses after that threat of deadly force, the young man, who at that point still didn’t know the man following him was an officer, went to a nearby gas station where Vorce then blocked his car. Vorce exited his vehicle with his gun pointed at Hamilton and identified himself as a police officer.
Ultimately a city of DeWitt police officer and a Michigan State Police trooper arrived on the scene and detained Hamilton.
Hamilton’s mother Rachel was devastated after viewing the video. Expressing frustrating that Vorce could put her son in danger because he didn’t like the teen’s response to his question. “Because he didn’t answer you, he didn’t give you the correct answer you were looking for? That doesn’t give you the right to take away my child, or even threaten to,” said Rachel to a local news outlet.
The DeWitt Police Department later released a statement revealing Vorce was placed on administrative leave almost immediately for violating city and police department policies. “At the conclusion of an investigation by the Michigan State Police on March 24, 2021, the incident did not result in the Clinton County prosecutor pursing criminal charges,” the city government told AP.
“The city of DeWitt then conducted an internal investigation of the incident involving the off-duty police officer. We have the utmost confidence that the city of DeWitt has taken appropriate action in this matter.” Though charges were not placed, an internal investigation later discovered that the violations, including excessive force, were enough for him to get fired.
A decision on Vorce’s appeal is expected within the next 30 to 45 days.
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