The Athens-Clarke County, Ga., police have launched an investigation after horrific video footage showed a police officer restraining a small child forcefully, all because the distraught boy tried to come in defense of his father, who was being arrested.
“Police Chief [Scott] Freeman has ordered an internal affairs investigation and the release of the officer’s body cam footage. The Athens-Clarke County attorney is reviewing the video footage due to a juvenile involvement, and the video will be release [sic] once his office has completed their review,” the statement read [PDF].
Footage of the incident was originally posted on Facebook, by a woman who identified the young boy as her cousin. (The Root has decided not to link this video directly, to avoid showing the child’s face.)
“These mfs done slammed my lil cousin on the car first (the footage I didn’t get) then on the ground,” she wrote in the description box of the video that was posted on Sunday. The video has already garnered more than 900,000 views.
Officers can be seen in the video pinning the child to the ground with his arms pinned behind his back. Adults in the background can be heard screaming in protest.
“He’s a child!” witnesses yelled.
The officer then approached the people recording, aggressively shouting at them to “back up” accusing the child of “attacking an officer.”
Since the investigation has been launched (h/t CNN), the police department has also released body cam footage of the incident (which has blurred the child’s face and redacted his name).
From this perspective, one is clearly able to see what led up to the officer’s brutal takedown of the small boy, who was clearly distressed by his father’s arrest.
The boy’s father was being taken into custody due to domestic violence allegations.
The body camera footage shows the suspect being handcuffed right as the man’s son runs into frame screaming and crying.
The boy demanded to know what his father was being arrested for, loudly protesting and insisting that his father did nothing wrong.
The father tells his son to “Chill out,” but the boy only became more distraught as time went by.
“Why? Why?” the boy screams. “He didn’t shoot nobody.”
As officers start to lead the boy’s father toward the patrol car, the boy jumps toward one of the officers.
“Our officer caught the child in mid-air and the momentum of the child launching himself caused the both of them to land on the patrol car. The child continued to be emotionally distraught, and continued with the outburst, at which time our officer placed him on the ground,” the statement by police said. “While on the ground, the officer continued to attempt to de-escalate the situation, assuring the child that he was not under arrest and that he would let him up if he would remain calm.”
What the video shows is a grown officer forcefully restraining a 10-year-old child and shouting at him to “stop resisting.”
“Stop resisting, stop resisting,” the officer yells as he pulls out handcuffs.
The boy immediately becomes contrite, responding with polite, but tearful “Yes, sirs” even as the adults can be heard screaming in the background.
“Sorry! Sorry” the boy pleaded. “I don’t want to go to jail.”
The officer tells the boy he won’t go to jail.
“You don’t run into a police officer,” the cop tells him. “You understand?”
“Yes, sir,” the boy responds.
Eventually, the officer lets the boy up. The child then asks the officers if he can get his father’s phone, still asking to know what his father did.
“He didn’t do nothing,” he insisted.
The officer allows the boy to approach the patrol car, leading him to the window where his father was seated. The boy takes his father’s phone, letting his dad knows that he’ll call someone who will be able to bail him out.
“Will you get out, Daddy?” he asks. “I love you.”
“Be strong,” the father, who was restrained in the back of the vehicle tells his son, as he leans his head toward the window so his son can pat his head.