The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is currently investigating an altercation involving one of its own and a runaway teen. A cellphone recording shows a deputy trying to subdue the juvenile on the ground. At first the teen appears to resist but is then held by the officer, who later uses a Taser with one hand on the 13-year-old's back. Eyewitnesses can be heard screaming "he's just a kid" and profanities as they watch in shock.
"There were other juveniles and people in the area with skateboards and there was only one deputy," said Jan Caldwell, a spokesperson for the sheriff's department. "He needed to get the situation under control as quickly as he could."
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the deputy was responding to a call the department received about a missing teen. After speaking with the mother, he was able to locate the 13-year-old at a hangout spot with other adolescents. Once the deputy was able to confirm the boy's identity, he made an attempt to take him into custody that quickly turned ugly — including a bite to the officer's hand.
"As the situation unfolded, he became not only verbally assaultive but physically combative," said Caldwell. "He had his hands in his waistband part of the time, so we didn't know if he had a weapon or a knife or a gun." The deputy believed a Taser was the best way "to try to calm the situation."
Since the incident, the 13-year-old teen has been arrested on a felony assault charge against an officer. Sheriff Bill Gore and the department are looking into the deputy's use of force. CBS 8 News also reports the deputy involved asked witnesses to delete cellphone videos.
This video is extremely difficult to watch. As the daughter of a retired police sergeant, I have heard many stories about unthinkable incidents that require cops to use a certain amount of force equivalent to the level of threat. However, looking at this video, I can't help but think a Taser was a bit excessive. Sure, there were quite a few bystanders shouting that might've intimidated the officer — or made him question his own well-being — but from what I saw, no one else got involved. Can you imagine being this kid's mother, not having him home for a couple of days and seeing this video?
With so many police-civilian altercations popping up in our news and social media feeds, there needs to be a serious chat regarding our behavior and how it plays out in a situation. Please don't misunderstand — many times there is no excuse for officers to use unthinkable and even deadly force to calm a situation. That doesn't mean I won't speak to my own children about ways they can de-escalate things on their end. As a mother, I will always do my best to protect my child but also want to make sure they handle things appropriately on their end.
When I was growing up, my father always told me that a bad and combative attitude will do next to nothing to help a situation. When it comes to dealing with a police officer one-on-one, it's a situation you aren't going to win on the side of the road. You can always fight your point later, but resisting arrest or apprehension — even if you feel you're right — will only intensify what's going on.
I might not be able to change police tactics or protocol but will for sure do my best to make sure my kids safely make it home.
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