A disturbing viral video of a white police officer in Northern California pinning a 14-year-old black boy on the ground, and repeatedly punching him in the chest during an arrest for cigarette possession, has sparked outrage online.
The footage was shared on social media by the boy’s family. It showed the unnamed Rancho Cordova police officer striking the teen repeatedly as he struggles on the ground. The officer at some point pinned the boy on his neck.
“There is not one reason that validates a full size armed man, to sit on, punch, and try and break the arms of a child,” Black Lives Matter Sacramento wrote Tuesday on Twitter, Daily News reported.
Rancho Cordova Police Department has opened an internal investigation into the worrying footage, and also cited the boy for possession of a tobacco product.
“This type of situation is hard on everyone–the young man, who resisted arrest, and the officer, who would much rather have him cooperate. The community should know our deputies have a heart for the Rancho Cordova community, especially for the youth they serve through the schools, PAL sports, and our new Youth Center,” Sacramento County sheriff’s Sergeant, Tess Deterding, said in a statement.
Deterding added: “The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office and Rancho Cordova Police Department, however, have proactively started an investigation into the use of force by our deputy in order to gain a complete and thorough understanding of the events that took place during this incident.”
Deterding said the video has been viewed nearly 180,000 times and sparked anger and accusations of racism and police brutality against blacks, adding people of color online must “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 a 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,” Deterding said.
But the founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento, Tanya Faison, told the Guardian the officer should not only be fired, but needs to be charged and convicted, and that is the only way these things will stop happening.
“He was 10 times the size of the boy,” Faison said. “He was armed, he was huge. The boy was tiny and he was clearly trying to protect his face. There is nothing an unarmed 14-year-old can do to validate the actions that this officer took.”
In a tweet, Senator Kamala Harris of California described the footage as a “horrible abuse of power.”
Meanwhile, the teenager identified as Elijah Tufono has been speaking about the incident. “He’s on top of me and it looks like he’s about to hit me. Like, I’m reacting like any other normal human being would,” Tufono told FOX40. “It could’ve been better on both of our parts in this situation.”
He said “lie to him (officer and I didn’t cooperate, and I know that and I made that mistake) but that didn’t give him no right to do what he did.”