Family demands answers after videos show white Chester officer punching Black teen

"We are not going to sit idly by and allow this type of policing to occur in our community because somebody will die."

  • Ximena Conde/WHYY

(Chester) — A white police officer was caught on video repeatedly punching Bahir Green, a Black teenager, while Green was being restrained in Chester on Friday. Today, Green’s family demanded the police be held accountable.

Bahir Green’s family and a crowd of supporters with signs that read “bad cops must go” and “police brutality will end” gathered in front of the Chester Police Department’s headquarters on Monday afternoon to demand justice for Green.

“We are not going to sit idly by and allow this type of policing to occur in our community because somebody will die,” said Zulene Mayfield, chair of Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living and a spokesperson for the family.

Green’s Friday arrest was captured by passersby with cellphones who shared those videos with Balinda Hynes, Green’s aunt.

Family members who live in Chester rushed to the site of the arrest at 10th and McDowell streets, according to Hynes. Arriving after police had left, she said the group headed to police headquarters where they were told Green was still in police custody.

The family says they have yet to see Green, who remains in custody. It took them until Sunday morning to reach Green by phone, and they were only able to do so after seeking help from the District Attorney’s Office.

Family members and supporters of Bahir Green carry handmade signs to a press conference at Chester police headquarters. The 16-year-old remains in custody after his arrest Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. A video appeared to show police beating him while making the arrest.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Family members and supporters of Bahir Green carry handmade signs to a press conference at Chester police headquarters. The 16-year-old remains in custody after his arrest Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. A video appeared to show police beating him while making the arrest.

Three days later, relatives said they still don’t know how Green came to be in police custody.

“I still don’t have a reason why they stopped Bahir. I still don’t have an affidavit, and I still don’t know Bahir’s charges,” said Hynes. “It’s something I’ve been asking since we’ve been at the police station. I still have no information on that.”

The Chester Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for more information about the incident. The Mayor’s Office referred WHYY News to the police department. The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the press conference on Monday, relatives said police chased Green into a telephone pole and didn’t immediately offer him medical help. After Green hit the pole, relatives say he exited the car with his hands up. The two videos Hynes posted on Facebook show Green on the ground as one officer begins to punch him. Two other officers can be seen helping to keep Green down on the sidewalk at the base of a stoop, each one holding one of his arms. The front end of a black car appears to have smashed into a telephone pole behind them.

Family and supporters immediately compared Green’s arrest to that of George Floyd’s, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer after he was reported for a minor infraction.

“They could have went about that situation way different than what they did,” said Bahira, Green’s twin sister, in tears. “He’s still a child, he’s not grown.”

The teen’s age is just one reason his family members said they can’t fathom what brought the officer in question to start punching Green when he was already on the ground with his hands behind his back.

Hynes described Green as a “great kid,” the only boy out of five siblings. She said he has already experienced trauma and grief at his young age, losing his mother when he was only 12 years old.

Bahir Green’s sisters and supporters comfort each other during a press conference in front of Chester police headquarters. The 16-year-old was arrested Friday and remains in custody.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Bahir Green’s sisters and supporters comfort each other during a press conference in front of Chester police headquarters. The 16-year-old was arrested Friday and remains in custody.

Shakurah Hanton, Green’s sister and guardian, said her brother simply needed a “little guidance.”

Activists at the press conference were critical of a police department that has recently touted its efforts in community policing. In August, Police Commissioner Steven Gretsky credited this approach to a 63% decline in homicides in Chester.

Organizers say Green’s arrest and the officer’s physical abuse bucks that narrative.

“You can be an ally or an occupying force,” said William Jones Jr. with Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living.

Jones said, despite the department’s rhetoric in the past year, Chester’s Black residence have yet to see the change.

 

WHYY is the leading public media station serving the Philadelphia region, including Delaware, South Jersey and Pennsylvania. This story originally appeared on WHYY.org.

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Up Next
Regional & State News

Church bus crash in Schuylkill County sends 30 to hospitals, some critically hurt