A California teen who ended up being pummeled by a police officer when cops raided a relative’s birthday party earlier this year is now suing, charging excessive force.
The beating of 17-year-old London Wallace, of Fresno, Calif., was captured on police bodycam, and may be difficult for many to watch. The unarmed teen can be seen being punched multiple times and left bleeding and crying, in the footage aired by ABC News.
“It’s a very disappointing situation. You can see London Wallace crying. You can see him bleeding,” London’s lawyer, Nolan Kane, told ABC affiliate KFSN. “He’s a high school kid. He likes playing basketball. He’s a nice, calm, timid person. … And you can kind of see that in the video. He’s not used to police contact.”
London’s lawsuit names the city of Fresno, the Fresno police department and the officer accused of beating him, Officer Christopher Martinez.
According to the suit, the teen was at a family birthday party earlier this year, playing a video game with a younger relative, when police arrived to do a “probation search,” the New York Times reports.
London was patted down and searched and then ordered to take a seat, the suit reads. When he turned to do so, as the Times recounts:
another officer steps forward and grabs him, pushing him to the wall and throwing several punches.
“Put your hands behind your back,” someone can be heard shouting repeatedly.
Mr. Wallace is pushed to the ground and two officers pile on top of him to handcuff him, the footage shows. The officers make him sit up and lean against the railing, and there is blood on Mr. Wallace’s face. The lawsuit said his nose was broken and he had other injuries.
London was initially arrested and charged with resisting arrest before those charges were dropped. Officer Martinez claimed in a police report that he punched London because he feared the teen was going to push him and another officer over a railing and that he needed “to back him up,” ABC News reports.
However, bodycam footage of the January incident, which was released just this week, raises questions about Martinez’s account. For now, Martinez has been placed on modified duty.
“The video that I have reviewed certainly raises concerns and raises questions for me as a police chief,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters, ABC News reports. “Those questions will be answered once all the video is reviewed, the interviews are conducted, the evidence is looked at and the investigation is complete.”
London was traumatized by the incident, and seeks damages for negligence and emotional distress, according to the suit, which asserts in part:
“At no point did Plaintiff pose a threat to Officer Christopher Martinez or any other Fresno Police Department Officer. At no point did Plaintiff disobey any orders from the Fresno Police Department.”