There was screaming, cursing, and a head slammed against the wall. A public defender called it “egregious.” Another called it “horrific.”
In a video that aired Thursday on Tucson’s KOLD news station, a white sheriff’s deputy is seen tackling and wrestling a black teen in foster care. The teen — an amputee with no arms or legs — repeatedly screams at the police officer to get off of him.
The sheriff’s deputy holds the boy in a headlock on the ground and curses in his face before arresting him for disorderly conduct. The deputy then screams at the teenager who was recording the scene, handcuffs him, and slams his head against the wall.
It was an extraordinary amount of violence against two defenseless youths — all in the span of eight minutes. The incident happened in September, but KOLD didn’t get a hold of the footage until this week. According to KOLD, the Pima County sheriff’s deputy was responding to a call at a Tucson group home about a disruptive teenager. Yet his angry and violent response was striking, especially because the teens seemed to be behaving like, well, teenagers.
The sheriff’s office told KOLD that it is investigating the officer’s conduct, and state prosecutors have since dropped charges against the two youths. The incident is all too similar to other videos that have gone viral, showing police officers use excessive force against black men. But there was something particularly disturbing about watching a deputy mistreat such vulnerable children. As if they hadn’t been through enough.
Children in group homes have already experienced enough trauma
One of the most remarkable things about the latest incident was where it happened: in a group home for boys in foster care. These residential facilities are supposed to be safe places for some of country’s most troubled youths.