Honestie Hodges passed away from COVID-19 at age 14 after a two-week battle with the virus. Her grandmother, Alisa Niemeyer, made the tragic announcement on the GoFundMe fundraiser page that was put in place after the teen was diagnosed with COVID-19 on her birthday, November 9.
The fundraiser was installed to help with medical expenses and necessities as Honestie’s mother, Whitney Hodges “stayed by her bedside” according to a post on the site.
On December 6, 2017, Honestie had been handcuffed by Grand Rapids, Michigan police officers after stepping on the back porch with her mother and another relative who were preparing to go to the store.
Police body cam footage shows officers shouting commands at the family. “Put your hands on top of your––” the officer says in the video before Honestie’s mother’s screams can be heard. “She is 11 years old, sir!” she says.
The officer responded, “Stop yelling!” before ordering the 11-year-old Honestie to walk backward toward him with her hands up. Another officer grabs her arms, pulling them behind her back before handcuffing her.
The incident caused national outrage, the police chief at the time, David Rahinsky calling it “a mistake.” Police say they were looking for a 40-year-old woman in connection with a stabbing incident. They eventually removed the handcuffs from Honestie after several minutes.
Rahinsky said in a news conference at the time that “listening to the 11-year-old’s response makes my stomach turn; it really makes me physically nauseous.” He retired in 2019. None of the officers involved in the incident were disciplined because, as Rahinksy said in a statement, the departmental policies were not violated.
In an interview following the incident with MLive.com, Honestie said, “I have a question for the Grand Rapids police: If this happened to a white child, if her mother was screaming, ‘She’s 11,’ would you have handcuffed her and put her in the back of a police car?”
The Grand Rapids police department adopted the “Honestie Policy” in March of 2018 to reform how it handles situations with youth.
The department had several other incidents involving children that stirred tension in the city. WOOD-TV, a local news outlet reported that Honestie’s family were in negotiations with the city this summer to settle a claim they filed over the handcuffing incident.
Honestie was taken to the hospital after she developed stomach pain on November 9. She tested positive for the coronavirus, but hospital staff sent her home. Her condition worsened throughout the night and she was rushed by ambulance back to the hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit. She underwent several procedures including iron and blood transfusions but never got better.
She was placed on a ventilator on November 14 before passing away on November 22.
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that I have to tell you that my beautiful, sassy, smart, loving granddaughter has gone home to be with Jesus,” her grandmother wrote on the GoFundMe Page.
“She could have been the vice president one day, or maybe the president,” she wrote, “The world was open to her.”
The CDC has reported that COVID-19-related deaths among children have been rare overall, but that Black and Hispanic kids were more likely to be hospitalized from the virus than white children.
Photo: Getty Images