A video posted to Instagram Friday shows a Florida police officer striking a 14-year-old girl twice and has Florida residents upset at what appears to be excessive force. Coral Springs Police, however, are defending the actions of the officer, saying that the video doesn’t show the whole story. CNN reported that the police department provided context by sharing the series of events that occurred prior to what is seen in the video and stated their belief in the importance of transparency by the department so that people have all the facts about a situation before judging whether an officer’s actions are appropriate.
The Coral Springs Police Department said they were called to Coral Springs Mall Thursday to respond to “unruly teens.” Reports indicated that the teens had been harassing shoppers and generally causing a disturbance at the mall. One mother reported that one of them had shoved her 5-year-old child to the ground, and another witness described the girl seen in the Instagram video punching a teenager who was shopping at the mall. The first action taken by Coral Springs police was to charge the teens with trespassing and bar them from the mall according to their account of events.
Before police were off mall property, they received another call reporting that the teens who had been barred from the mall had returned. They took one of the males into custody with no struggle from him, but the 14-year-old seen in the video became angry and began cursing and “attempting to incite the other teens.” As officers tried to arrest her, she became physical and resisted arrest. Here’s how they described what happened next.
“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 to comply she was struck in the side to release her clenched fists – she was then handcuffed.”
Their account of the incident continues by saying that she “violently kicked” an officer while police were trying to put her into the police vehicle.
Jessica Dennis, the girl’s mother, has hired an attorney, saying that she believes the video proves that her daughter was not aggressive. In their statement, the Coral Springs Police Department stressed how important they feel it is “for people to have all of the facts before rushing to judgment of an officer’s actions when faced with calls for service involving violent suspects — regardless of their age or gender.”