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Honestie Hodges quietly complied when a police officer told her to put her hands above her head, turn around, and walk backward toward him.
The then-11-year-old Black girl, along with her mother and aunt, was being held at gunpoint outside her home by officers from the Grand Rapids Police Department in Michigan who were looking for a 40-year-old stabbing suspect in December 2017.
But as they began handcuffing her, the young girl cried and pleaded with them. “No, no, no!” she wailed, as her mother, Whitney Hodges, shouted that her daughter was only 11 years old.
Honestie was handcuffed for a few minutes, patted down for weapons, and held in the police cruiser for 10 minutes before being released, Time reported. Police officers later found the suspect at another house.
The incident, captured on body camera video, prompted outrage in Michigan and forced the police department to implement changes in the way it interacted with youth. They dubbed it the “Honestie Policy.”
On Nov. 22, Honestie died of COVID-19, more than two weeks after being hospitalized on her birthday, her family said on a fundraising page.
She had just turned 14.
“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,” her grandmother, Alisa Niemeyer, wrote in a GoFundMe post.
Honestie was taken to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital on Nov. 9 where she tested positive for COVID-19 and was sent home, Niemeyer wrote. Later that evening, she was rushed back to the hospital and moved to the ICU after her condition worsened.
In subsequent days, the teen was put on a ventilator and was given iron and blood transfusions, her grandmother wrote in updates on the family’s fundraising page.
“She is not doing well at all please, please, please pray like you’ve never prayed before!!!” Niemeyer wrote in a post last week. “The Dr’s are telling us that they don’t know if she’s going to make it or not.”
Four days later, her family said that Honestie had succumbed to the deadly virus, which has killed more than 260,000 Americans.
A Spectrum Health spokesperson for the hospital declined to comment, citing patient privacy laws. Niemeyer and other family members did not respond to a request for comment.
“She was one of a kind and I am honored that I was chosen to be her mother,” Whitney Hodges wrote in a Facebook post. “Thank you for 14 of the best years of my life poohty I love you ma.”
Niemeyer told News 8 that her granddaughter had been “happy” and “healthy” and had no underlying health problems.
“She could have been the vice president one day or maybe the president,” Niemeyer told the station. “The world was open to her.”
After Honestie was admitted to the hospital, her family thought she was going to get better and that they would have a birthday party for her.
But, as Niemeyer told News 8, “it just went down from there, like incredibly quickly.”
Around 60 people attended a candlelight vigil for the teen on Monday, MLive.com reported. On Facebook, Whitney Hodges urged everyone to wear a mask while attending the vigil.
Photos and videos of the vigil shared online by Honestie’s family and friends showed balloons, candles, and teddy bears surrounding several large photos of Honestie.