Yakima, WA — The parents of a teenage boy are calling for justice this week after a disturbing video showed a massive Yakima police officer kick their son in his back after he’d just been pepper sprayed. While witnesses and bystanders — and arguably the video — say that the officer was in the wrong, police are saying that we need to know the whole story before jumping to conclusions.
The family has since hired an attorney who says they now plan to file a claim against the city.
According to police, several officers responded to a fight at the Central Washington State Fair on Sunday. The video does not show what led up to the kick, but it does show the boy being pepper sprayed, suffering, and then getting kicked in his back by a massive cop as he struggled to breathe from the spray.
The video was uploaded to Facebook by Jasmin Hernandez Cervera who says she heard the fight and then turned around to film it.
The video shows several boys scatter as a handful of them remain fighting. It appears that the boy who was kicked by police had two other boys attacking him. When police told everyone to get on the ground, the two boys who appeared to be attacking the boy in the white shirt, then ran away—leaving him to be the victim of police brutality.
As the boy tries rubbing the chemical agent from his eyes, the officer — without any reason — walks up behind him and delivered a massively forceful kick to his back, sending him flying to the ground.
According to police, there were around 15 people involved in the fight, but only four of them were arrested.
“It’s not clear what led up to the officer kicking the boy,” said interim Yakima Police Chief Gary Jones.
“I don’t know if (he) was one of the primary aggressors. That’s something the investigation will determine,” Jones said.
“I don’t know what was the cause of the fight,” Cervera said of her video. “I turned around right in the middle of it. I don’t know the kids who were involved. I was coincidentally a bystander.”
“Anytime you only see a snippet of a video, you’ve got to look at the totality of what was going on — what was going on around the officer,” Jones said. “With a very short amount of video, it doesn’t give us all the information.”
While it is certainly true that it is important to see the entire video to see exactly what happened in this incident, this short snippet is still extremely damning and shows a police officer conducting himself in an entirely unprofessional manner by kicking a defenseless boy in his back.
As the Yakima Herald points out, investigations into police use of force include three steps; a field supervisor first reviews the incident and all officer reports, then forwards the findings to a watchman for a similar review to ensure there’s no missing information. After that, it goes before a division supervisor — Jones in this case — for a final determination.
Jones didn’t know how long the department’s investigation into the officer’s actions would take.
According to the family, however, they have all the evidence they need from the video.
Attorney Bill Pickett, who is representing the family, says the officer who pepper sprayed and then kicked his client when breaking up the fight displayed “abusive and unacceptable conduct by an officer.”
What do you think? Was the officer justified in his actions in the video below? Let us know in the comments.