Police punched a girl at a mental health facility and claimed it was justified.
Security cameras caught a case of police brutality at a mental health facility on April 28. A Pembroke Pines Police officer was helping escort a 14-year-old girl down a hallway when the girl spun and swatted the officer. In retaliation, the officer punched the mentally ill girl, a move which snapped her head back before the rest of the officers joined and wrestled her to the ground and sprayed her with mace.
After the police punched the girl in the face, a riot broke out among the patients in which the Miramar police were called in to break it up. The facility staff had lost control of the situation and external help was necessary at that point.
The incident happened at the Citrus Health System treatment facility in Broward County, a place where disturbed youth are sent to get help. The facility treats children and young adults, several under contract with Florida’s Department of Children and Families.
Broward’s Chief Assistant Public Defender, Gordon Weekes, Jr., says that when the police charged the girl with resisting arrest, they had to have known she was acting out in her mental illness, and most likely couldn’t control herself. The force with which the officer hit the girl was deemed excessive.
Staff at the mental health facility where the police punched the girl said that the video was not an indication of how they deal with seriously mentally ill children. Citrus Health has stated that it welcomes an investigation into the actual practices used, “Citrus Health Network will conduct a thorough internal investigation into these allegations. We also welcome the Florida Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration to conduct their own investigations into this matter.”
A Pembroke Pines Police spokesperson defended the officer’s reaction, however, saying that the girl clearly struck him first.
Do you think the officer was justified in his actions, or should the police who punched the girl be held accountable for excessive force?