Florida Police Refutes Claims Of Excessive Force After Viral Video Shows Them Punching 14-Year-Old Girl
Authorities called the punches to the teen's side "distraction strikes."
October 22, 2018 at 3:05 pm
A viral video capturing two police officers manhandling a 14-year-old girl in Coral Springs, Florida, has ignited controversy online.
On Thursday, October 18, Coral Springs police were called to the Coral Square Mall on a disturbance call. There was reportedly a group of teens causing a ruckus and harassing mallgoers, according to Local 10 News.
Local reports claim one of the teens in the group pushed a 5-year-old and someone else was allegedly striking another teen patron. However, there is no confirmation the teen seen in the viral video was involved directly in these incidents. The mall saw a larger than usual influx of teens due to an early release from school that day.
The group of teens was forced off the mall property by police. But some teens reappeared, and police arrested a male teen for violating a trespass warning. The 14-year-old refused because she claimed she did nothing wrong to be arrested.
This is when police forced the girl to the ground and began punching her side to get her to open her clenched fists. Authorities claim the series of punches to the girl's abdomen was a maneuver called "distraction strikes" to get the teen to comply.
Here is a video of Coral Springs police officers holding down & repeatedly punching a 14 year old black girl. These officers need to be fired & charged with assaulting this child. Please call the Coral Springs PD at (954) 344-1800 & demand justice. pic.twitter.com/IC34mrHkbS— Simar (@sahluwal) October 19, 2018
The teen's mother believes this is a classic case of excessive force.
"I’m angry. I would never expect this to happen,” the girl’s mother, Jessica Dennis, told WSVN-Ch. 7. "Her hands were pinned up. It was just too much."
In days following, Dennis has recruited attorney Meeghan Moldof to seek justice for her daughter.
“He’s just gut-shotting her, like one after another,” Moldof told WSVN-Ch.7. “The video speaks for itself. That’s the truth right there."
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the teen is facing three different charges and has been booked in the Juvenile Assessment Center in Fort Lauderdale.
The Coral Springs Police Department released a "rumor control" statement to curb accusations of racism and excessive force. It also made an official statement at a press conference:
“Officers attempted to take her into custody, at which time she began to fight and resist arrest. Due to her stature and aggressive behavior, officers took her to the ground attempting to get her to release her fists. As seen in the video, she resisted arrest, and in order to have her comply, she was struck in the side to release her clenched fists.”
“What you see on video is the officer delivering some strikes, distraction strikes to an area where she has her hands concealed underneath her,” said Coral Springs police Deputy Chief Brad McKeone. “The officers don’t know what she may have in her possession. That’s a concern.”
This incident has made the teen's mother distrustful of her local police.
“I can’t trust them anymore. Like, I don’t feel safe in the area,” Dennis said.
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