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Teenage girl whose handcuffing at 11 led to police reforms dies of Covid

Honestie Hodges, a Michigan 14-year-old whose handcuffing three years ago sparked police department reforms, has died from Covid-19.

Her family announced her death on a GoFundMe page on Sunday, and said she had spent almost two weeks at the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Alisa Niemeyer said her granddaughter was taken into care on 9 November, which was also her 14th birthday, following a positive coronavirus test.

She was then taken to an Intensive Care Unit, where she received a blood transfusion and was placed on a ventilator, before her condition worsened.

Ms Niemeyer thanked those who had posted messages of condolence and donated in support of Honestie’s mother, who works at a nearby nursing home.

Three years ago, the teenager was the source of soul searching within the Grand Rapids police department, after officers handcuffed her with their weapons drawn.

The officers argued they were searching for a 40-year-old woman at the time, who was wanted in connection with a stabbing incident, the New York Times reported.

While police removed the handcuffs after several minutes, her arrest made national news headlines, with the teenager asking police on MLive.com whether they would have done the same to a white child.

Grand Rapids police department later adopted policies on how to approach youths, dubbed the “Honestie policy”, but no officers were disciplined following the incident in December 2017.

Responding to the teenager’s death on Wednesday, filmmaker Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter that “America failed this girl”. 

“She was abused by police at 11. She passed away from Covid at 14. America failed this girl. Her name was Honestie Hodges,” wrote Ms DuVernay. 

The criticism follows several months of discussion about racial inequalities among Americans, sparked by the police killing of Minneapolis George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in May. 

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