By Veronica Rocha, LA Times, and News Sources
A video showing four Stockton police officers tackling a Black 16-year-old boy to the ground for allegedly jaywalking has drawn public outrage and concerns about excessive force.
The nearly three minute video, shot by a bystander on Tuesday, Sept. 15, has sparked backlash, with many accusing the officers of using unnecessary force on the teen for a minor violation.
Edgar Avendaño, who posted the video to Facebook, said the teen was stopped for jaywalking after he stepped out of a bus in the morning near the San Joaquin Downtown Transit Center and was standing two feet away from the sidewalk.
“The cop was telling him to take a seat but the teen kept walking to his bus. The cop kept grabbing his arm and the kid took the cop’s hand off his arm so the cop took out his baton and that’s when I started recording because everything happened too quick,” Avendaño wrote on Facebook. “He didn’t have to hit the kid with the baton and no need to call about 20 cops.”
The video shows the teen and an officer struggling near the bus stop as a crowd of people watch. The teen was seated in a raised planter as the officer used a baton to hold him down and then used it to strike him twice in the face. After he was struck in the face, the teen shielded his face and covered it for most of the ordeal.
In the video, the officer repeatedly says, “Stop resisting” as the boy says “get off.”
A woman screams at the officer, “Can you get off of him? He’s just a kid.”
The officer ordered the teen to turn around, but the teen continued to face him.
“His baton is toward my chest, then goes to my neck, and he was choking me,” the teen later told ABC 10. “I can hardly breathe, and I’m pushing it back.”
More than a minute later, three other officers arrived and helped the officer tackle the teen.
Department spokesman Officer Joseph Silva said the officer, who is assigned to the transit center, told the 16-year-old boy to move from the bus-only lane, but he refused and cursed.
The officer tried to detain the boy but was pushed away, he said. Silva said the boy tried to grab the officer’s baton, so the officer had to use control tactics to retain his weapon.
“As law enforcement officers, we cannot allow anybody to take our weapons from us for the safety of the public,” he said. The officer called for backup twice because a large crowd of people was gathering, Silva said.
Eventually, the boy was not cited for jaywalking, but for resisting arrest and trespassing. NAACP president Bobby Bivens has met with the young man and his parents to lend support, and the family has filed a formal complaint with police. He did not suffer any injuries, but was allegedly punched in the face by the officer.