Honestie Hodges, Whose Handcuffing Sparked a National Outrage, Has Died of COVID at 14 Years Old

In 2017, 11-year-old Honestie Hodges was handcuffed by Grand Rapids, Michigan police who were looking for a 40-year-old woman, in a case that national headlines and led to the implementation of “Honestie Policy,” which urges the least restrictive means possible for police dealings with children.

On November 22 of this year, Honestie Hodges passed away from COVID-19, her grandmother Alisa Niemeyer wrote in a post. “It is with an extremely heavy heart that I have to tell all of you that my beautiful, sassy, smart, loving Granddaughter has gone home to be with Jesus,” Niemeyer wrote.

Honestie was 14 years old.

The footage of her handcuffing led to a nationwide debate around police practices around children. Honestie herself spoke out on local news. “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?” she asked. The “Honestie Policy” was seen as a significant victory for advocates of police reform when it passed in 2018.

On November 9 of this year, Honestie developed a stomach ache and was taken to the hospital. She tested positive for COVID-19 and was sent home, but was taken to the ICU later that day when her condition worsened and was placed on a ventilator on November 14. But her condition failed to improve and she passed away on Sunday. A GoFundMe has been created to help her parents with medical bills.

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Niemeyer told reporters that Honestie had not had any underlying health issues when she contracted the virus. Experts say that while it is rare for children to die of COVID-19, almost all American children who have died of it have been Black or Hispanic.

“She could have been the vice president one day, or maybe the president,” Niemeyer said. “The world was open to her.”

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