Madison, Wisc., police officers were called to the home of a 17-year-old boy last week because he was experiencing a mental health crisis. The encounter ended with officers tackling the child, placing a bag over his head, and punching the teen, who is black, repeatedly.
Unbeknownst to the officers, the entire incident had been recorded on the home’s surveillance cameras. Now, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says an external excessive force investigation has been launched to assess the officers’ actions on June 5. One officer has been placed on administrative leave.
The incident began at the teen’s school, according to an MPD police report. The West High School student was sent home after threatening a district contract worker. Once he came home, he continued to exhibit “threatening behavior consistent with someone in mental health crisis,” Channel 3000 writes, citing the police report. His foster father called the police, who were aware the boy had mental health issues; the plan was for officers to transport the teen into protective custody, then a local hospital so he could be evaluated.
But police say the teen refused to comply with their requests, including being handcuffed, which led to one of them slamming the teen against the wall. According to family friend Brandi Grayson, who posted three videos of the incident on Facebook, the teenager was simply retrieving his phone and walked past an officer when the cop attacked him, demanding that the boy “stop resisting.”
Two more officers wrestle with the teen once he falls onto the couch.
Here’s how the police report describes the incident, from the Wisconsin State Journal:
According to Officer Andrew Slawek’s report, the teen was calling him and another responding officer racists and was threatening to kill them. As the teen walked toward the other officer, Slawek said he saw the teen’s hands tense up and, given his earlier threats, decided to physically take him into custody.
The teen resisted, police said, and what followed was a protracted struggle in which the teen repeatedly spit in Slawek’s face, threatened to kill police and tried to break free. Slawek also reported that the teen reached for where his gun and Taser were on his belt and repeatedly told him to Tase, shoot and pepper spray him.
Slawek later reported having suffered an injured right wrist and thumb, including a possible chipped bone, during the struggle.
At one point in the struggle, officers put a spit hood (essentially, a mesh bag) on the teen’s head after he allegedly spit on them. Once the hood was on, a fourth cop, Officer Joseph Engler struck the teen multiple times, once on his head and twice on his forearm, in an effort to subdue the boy, he said.
Grayson told Channel 3000 she doesn’t believe police were following protocol for handing a child in a mental health crisis, but if it turns out they were, then “something’s wrong with the procedures.”
“I was horrified,” she said. “I was horrified, hurt, sad, and then I was outraged.”
As of last Thursday, the teen was still hospitalized, The State Journal reports. Police Chief Koval said the teen may still be charged with crimes related to the incident once he stabilizes, pending the outcome of the investigation.