Here we go again.
Cell phone video footage posted on social media Tuesday appears to show an officer using excessive force in an effort to detain a 14-year-old black child in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
In the video, the officer is seen shoving the child’s face into the ground and punching him multiple times as witnesses plead with him to stop.
The Rancho Cordova Police Department released a statement addressing the incident Tuesday afternoon saying what you would expect cops to say in situations like this: The video needs context and the investigation is still “in its infancy” but we’re pretty sure the officer did everything right (added subtext mine).
According to the statement, the “Problem Oriented Policing (POP) Officer” was patrolling the area amid complaints from citizens about “hand-to-hand sales of alcohol, tobacco and drugs to minors.”
It’s important to put video footage into context, especially in relation to a use of force incident. In this case, the deputy saw what he believed to be a hand-to-hand exchange between an adult and juvenile. As the deputy turned around, he lost sight of the adult, who left the area. When the deputy approached the juvenile, the juvenile was uncooperative and refused to give the deputy basic identifying information. He told the deputy he was 18 years old. Having reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was occurring, the deputy attempted to detain the juvenile so he could conduct further investigation. The juvenile became physically resistive at that time, causing the deputy to lose control of his handcuffs, which landed several feet away. The deputy attempted to maintain control of the juvenile without his handcuffs and while alone waiting for his partners to arrive and assist him.
Ultimately, the deputy recovered tobacco products from the 14-year-old juvenile, which is presumably the reason for his resistance. The juvenile was cited and released to his guardians.
Nothing in the RCPD’s statement explains why an officer needed to repeatedly punch and slam a child half his size. “Uncooperative” doesn’t explain that and “physically resistive” is too vague a description for something that supposedly led to this degree of force against a minor. All their statement does is immediately paint the officer as innocent and the child as troublesome.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.) pretty much captured the appropriate sentiment.
“This is a horrific abuse of power. This officer must be held accountable,” she tweeted.