A deputy’s use of force is under investigation after a video shows the officer pinning a Black teen to the ground and punching him multiple times prior to detaining him.
A 15-second video of the incident was posted to Twitter Tuesday, April 28. It shows Brian Fowell, a police officer with the Rancho Cordova Police Department in California, fixed on top of a Black teen, identified as 14-year-old Elijah Tufono. The officer is seen grabbing Tufono behind the back of his neck — pushing his face into the ground — followed up by three punches to the teen’s arm in an attempt to detain him. It does not, however, show how the altercation started, or what happened after the blows.
“My baby brother who is 14 years old. All of this over a swisher there’s more footage but I wasn’t able to upload it all. Please repost, we just want justice for my baby! #Justice4JAH,” a Twitter user claiming to be Tufono’s sister tweeted Tuesday.
“He was charged with “resisting arrest”. But what was he even being arrested for?? For having a swisher? & they ended up letting him go so what was all of this for?? Smh he was left with scratches and chest pains! this was so unnecessary!” she added.
Tufono said the incident occurred after he asked a stranger to buy some tobacco for him, and he had it in his hand.
“And that’s when the cop pulled up,” Tufono told FOX40 news. “And he asked me what was that in my hand. And I had gave him, as soon as he asked me that, I just gave it to him.”
He said the officer then became confrontational when he was not truthful with him.
“I did lie to him and I didn’t cooperate, and I know that and I made that mistake,” Tufano said. “But that didn’t give him no right to do what he did.”
The teen told the Fox affiliate that he was fearful and reacted in a way that “any other normal human being would.”
“He’s on top of me and it looks like he’s about to hit me. Like, I’m reacting like any other normal human being would,” he said. “It could’ve been better on both of our parts in this situation.”
Kevin Mickelson, president of the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, told CNN news that Fowell was unaware of the teen’s age and, at the time of the incident, Tufono’s failure to comply prompted the physical altercation.
“He did not know he was a juvenile at the time,” Mickelson said. “Had that person complied with the officer’s directives this would be a zero — we wouldn’t be talking about this.”
Julián Castro, a former presidential candidate and secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, shared the video on Twitter and said it was “sickening.”
“WARNING: This video of @RanchoCordovoPD officer beating a 14-year-old is sickening, and demands immediate action,” Castro tweeted. “How many of these videos must we see before we do something about police violence in this country?”