A viral video showing a Rancho Cordova, California, police officer striking a 14-year-old black boy during an arrest has sparked nationwide anger, and now authorities say they are investigating the incident.
As The Guardian reported, the clip captured viral interest on Twitter after it was posted this week, showing an officer in the Northern California city holding 14-year-old Elijah Tufono down in the dirt, grabbing him by the neck, and striking him several times in the chest. Many believed that the officer used excessive force, especially as some identified the boy as having a heart condition and the fact that he was ultimately arrested for possession of a tobacco product — a minor offense.
NBC News wrote that the person who uploaded several clips on the incident to Facebook, identified as Elijah’s sister, said that the teen was not trying to resist arrest, but was trying to move his arms free because he was in pain from being pinned down. She said that her brother has some scratches and is sore from the encounter, and also that the entire family is still in shock from the incident.
As NBC News reported, both the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office and the Rancho Cordova Police Department have launched investigations into the arrest and the allegations of excessive force against the officer.
Tanya Faison, a founder of the Black Lives Matter Sacramento chapter, told The Guardian that the officer didn’t need to use the level of force seen in the video. She called for him to be fired.
“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.”
The clip had already captured national attention, drawing responses from many individuals, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, who said in a statement on Twitter that the officer “must be held accountable.”
This is a horrific abuse of power. This officer must be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/jcAABFzWvj
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) April 28, 2020
The Rancho Cordova Police Department addressed the video this week, releasing a statement saying the officer believed he witnessed a “hand-to-hand exchange” between the juvenile and an adult and also noting that there had been complaints of sales of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs to minors in the area. A department spokesperson alleged that the juvenile was uncooperative and refused to give basic identifying information and falsely told the officer that he was 18.