A controversial video that started circulating on social media Sunday shows at least three San Antonio police officers manhandling a 14-year-old black girl as they forcibly detain her. On the video, one of those officers appears to punch her in the face.
It was dark when the video was taken, but the officers are seen struggling with the girl. According to the Huffington Post, the teen was attending a quinceañera celebration May 20 when trouble started. The report notes that two adult male partygoers got into an altercation inside the venue, with one of the men accusing the other of being “inappropriate with the juveniles,” according to a preliminary report by the San Antonio Police Department.
The venue where the party was being held kicked the entire group out, Artessia House, an attorney for the teen, told HuffPost. The fight spilled outside and the police were called.
The girl, who was not involved in the original argument, was somehow arrested and charged with assault of a public servant.
HuffPost reports that it is not clear what happened between the girl and the officer, but House said that witnesses say the girl did not hit the officer.
After the apparent punch by one officer, two officers are seen crowding the girl as they drag her away. Screams can be heard in the background as one person repeatedly shrieks, “No! No!”
“It looks like the officer punched the girl with a closed fist,” House told HuffPost.
“There was nothing that merited that use of force,” the attorney added. “There’s really no excuse.”
House said that the teen did not get medical attention at the scene but did see a doctor at the Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center. The lawyer also said that she was not given an ice pack when she requested one.
The 14-year-old was held at the detention center from the time of her arrest on Saturday night until Monday afternoon. Since the prosecutor agreed that the girl should be released, House expects that charges against the girl will also be dropped.
House is arguing that the officer accused of punching the teen “lacked the temperament and the restraint when it came to dealing with this child to the point where he became an aggressor. ... When we talk about use of force, the force has to be proportional. … That force does not seem that it would be proportional—even if the child did hit him.
“Because she is a 14-year-old minor, she needs to be treated as a 14-year-old minor—not as an adult,” the lawyer added.
Police Chief William McManus issued a statement Monday saying that the events “leading up to the arrest of the juvenile for assaulting a public official is being investigated to ensure compliance with Department policies.”
The news site reports that although the San Antonio Police Department “rarely” uses force—citing an analysis of police data by the San Antonio Express News—its officers are up to 78 percent more likely to forcibly subdue black and Latinx people than they are white people.
Read more at the Huffington Post.