[WATCH] Video Shows Detroit Police Officer Hitting Man’s Face With His Club

A bystander’s video went viral Sunday night after an off-duty Detroit police officer struck a rowdy shoplifting suspect on the side of his face during a struggle at a Meijer store in Detroit.

The video on YouTube incited a chorus of online critics alleging police brutality, but Chief James Craig said Monday the veteran officer “acted appropriately” in subduing the 23-year-old man.

In a news conference Monday afternoon, Craig said, “It appears that the force was proper” even though an investigation found no evidence that the man had shoplifted.

The incident, and the negative online buzz, prompted Craig to call for cooperation from citizens whenever a police officer stops them.

“I can understand that, if you’re stopped and you’ve done nothing wrong, you’re going to be agitated. But this officer had the right to investigate, based on the information that was coming to him. So please, I would ask everyone, cooperate with us,” Craig said.

Both the officer and the suspect were black. The officer — a 39-year veteran of the department — is 65, making him 42 years older than the suspect and adding “the issue of age here,” Craig said.

On the video, the officer can be seen repeatedly hitting the youth with a nightstick as the two tussled, pushing and shoving from the store’s lobby to the parking lot. Seeing the scuffling turn violent, a woman can be heard on a bystander’s video saying: “That officer can go to jail, hitting that boy like that.”

The officer, seconds later, leans over the prostrate youth and shouts, “Don’t be f—ing with me!”

The suspect, treated at a hospital for a broken tooth and a contusion at the side of his face, was in custody Monday night while police sought warrants to charge him with resisting and obstructing arrest as well as disorderly conduct, Craig said. The department is investigating whether the officer’s conduct justifies disciplinary action, he said.

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