An Arizona sheriff’s deputy wrestled a screaming 15-year-old with no arms or legs to the ground after the teen was accused of knocking over a trash can in a group home in Tucson.
Witness cell-phone video of the Sept. 26 incident has prompted the Pima County Sheriff’s Department to open an internal investigation.
First obtained by local CBS affiliate KOLD, the video shows the officer restraining the shirtless quadruple amputee as he shouts and swears in protest. The 16-year-old teen who filmed the incident was later slammed into the wall by deputies, Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman told the Washington Post. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office confirmed to VICE News that an internal investigation was opened after the video surfaced.
The 15-year-old is in state custody because he was abandoned by his parents. Police were initially called because he was yelling and agitated, but Feinman told the Washington Post that it’s relatively normal for a teenager to act out — particularly a teen with a traumatic past.
“The whole thing is pretty traumatic, and this is trauma on top of trauma,” Feinman said in an interview with VICE News. “These are boys who are in the custody of the state for one reason or another.”
It’s also unclear what threat a 15-year-old without arms or legs could’ve posed to the deputy, who held the teenager in a headlock before putting his weight on top of him and pressing him to the ground. That further agitated the teenager, who screamed at the deputy to let him go. The deputy eventually relented.
“I’m telling you to stop moving, but you still move!” the deputy said to the teenager.
When the teenager appeared to protest, the officer responded, “Shut the hell up,” and bent down to yell in his face.
“I’ll raise my voice at you whenever the fuck I want, you understand?” the deputy told the teen.
At that point, the 16-year-old behind the camera steps in. In a measured tone, the unidentified teen said: “Hey, you asked him a question and he answered.” “Shut the hell up!” the deputy responded. He asked the teen to go to “his room.”
When the teen responded that he couldn’t go to his room, the officer got closer to him and said: “Why don’t you go eat your cereal and shut the hell up?”
A third teenager in the group home took over filming after the 16-year-old was placed in handcuffs. The deputy slammed the 16-year-old’s head into a wall.
Both boys were charged with disorderly conduct, but the charges were dropped after KOLD published the video Thursday.
Cover: Screen shot from KOLD video