The officer in question is being investigated but he has not been placed on administrative leave.
Trigger Warning: This story contains distressing details and videos of police brutality that readers may find disturbing.
On February 21, a video clip surfaced on social media showing a Baton Rouge police officer holding a Black child in a chokehold while pinning him down to the ground. Now the officer in question is being investigated after the footage sparked immense outrage among the public with people calling for reforms within the Baton Rouge Police Department. "We’re going to conduct an investigation into the incident and report our findings at the appropriate time," said Chief of Police Murphy Paul last Monday during a press conference.
He needs to be fired immediately and all cops that were present. If this is the only way to find out if the child is who you are looking for you don’t deserve to have a job in public service ANYWHERE. His badge and pension needs to be GONE. Nothing else is acceptable.— GORA (@gorasephora) February 25, 2021
Promising to investigate the incident, Paul requested the public to respect the process. "Until then, we’re asking the community to respect the process that is in place right now so that we can conclude that investigation and present all of the facts that have been known to us," he said, according to New Orleans Public Radio. Last month, the 13-year-old's aunt shared the devastating clip of the incident on Twitter. In the 23-second video, an officer appears to be pinning the teenager to the ground while placing his arm around his neck even as bystanders request him to get off him.
A video is circulating showing a @BRPD officer trying to arrest a teen. The family says, the teen, 13, was allegedly mistaken for someone else when the incident occurred.— Jonah Gilmore (@JonahMGilmore) February 22, 2021
They say, tonight he’s home, but they want answers from the department on what’s they’re calling excessive. pic.twitter.com/G6LYJVZlmX
"You're choking him!" one of the onlookers was heard yelling repeatedly. Eventually, the police officer is seen loosening his grip before restraining the child's hands behind his back. The identity of the police officer and the 13-year-old has not been revealed. Paul said that officers responded to complaints about a fight between the members of two families. Apparently, one of the callers alleged they were using baseball bats to harm each other while fighting. It was also reported that adults in the two families were also involved in the altercation.
These kind of things keep happening because black ppl are always looked at as a threat. No matter how old, no matter how small or frail. If ur black especially a darker tone you are threatening. Stuff like this needs to stop. The sad part is it usually happens in America— Menaje E'toi (@MenajeTheDoll) February 24, 2021
Officers arrived at the scene and managed to resolve the situation without incident. However, they were called once again about 30 minutes later when the conflict ensued again. This is when the cop restrained the teen to the ground and the onlookers captured the incident that went down. It was reported that a 13-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy were arrested on charges of resisting arrest. Moreover, the boy was charged with disturbing the police and battery of an officer. He spent many hours at a juvenile detention center before his family arrived and got him released.
Honestly, from someone who teaches and understands grappling and chokes very well. A choke that is done properly is extremely safe. Also, there are many forms of head control that involve an arm around the next where the untrained thinks is a choke but is not. I disagree here— AddicTsHyper (@AddicTsHyper) February 22, 2021
Family attorney Ronald Haley, who is representing the boy, accused the cop in the video of using excessive force on the boy. He also expressed his concerns surrounding the treatment of Black child as an adult and asked why police were involved to settle a dispute that was among children, "I don't know why the police are coming in to handle a dispute between children in the neighborhood," he said. "But if called out, I would hope that they would treat them not as adults, but as children, as human beings. And it does not appear that this happened."
Who’s going to police the police bc this is getting outta hand🤦🏾♂️— bennieblanco🤴🏾 (@Benniebuckets2x) February 22, 2021
"If that officer did not have a badge or a uniform on, and was an adult on the ground with a child in that manner, he’d be arrested," said Haley, according to WAFB. "Nowhere should an unarmed 13-year-old, who is not a danger to himself or others, be treated like a grown-up". Haley says that his client has suffered a busted lip, in addition to recurring headaches. The teen is now experiencing difficulty in sleeping following the arrest. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said that she would not let this incident slide.
"I assure you that we were thoroughly investigating what has going on here and make sure that transparency is heightened and communication throughout this process," said Broome, who has also petitioned a court to release bodycam footage of the officer involved in the distressing incident, reports WGNO. But Haley revealed that the release of the video could take some time as there are many juveniles involved and thus asked people to be patient. "I appreciate the swift response from Mayor Broome and the promises made by Chief Paul," he said in a statement according to NBC News. "However, too many times in our community we see obvious police misconduct go unchecked and unpunished."
“I don't know why the police are coming in to handle a dispute between children...But if called out, I would hope that they would treat them not as adults, but as children, as human beings." -Attorney for 13 year old arrested https://t.co/J056VMfwlP— FFLIC (@fflicla) February 24, 2021
Meanwhile, the officer in the video has not been placed on administrative leave, according to New Orleans Public Radio. The department said it would first complete the investigation before taking any action. "The investigation will make sure and determine if our officer was in compliance with his training and his procedures and if we need to change the procedures and training based on a review of the incident,” said Paul.