A Florida police officer who was seen on video punching a 14-year-old girl who resisted arrest will not face discipline, officials have said.
The Coral Springs Police Department said on Monday that no policies were broken in the arrest on Thursday at Coral Square Mall, where cops were responding to a fight involving 30 unruly teens.
‘No policy was violated,’ Coral Spring Police Officer Tyler Reik told the Sun-Sentinel.
‘The officers went through what they are trained to do and to de-escalate the situation. We try verbal compliance first, and obviously that wasn’t working.’
The video shows the police officer punching the teen in the side several times as she lies on her hands to prevent them from being handcuffed. Police say no policy was broken in the incident
The unidentified teen’s mother Jessica Dennis disagreed, telling DailyMailTV she is ‘furious’ over the incident.
‘I truly believe it was excessive force because my daughter was lying there, she wasn’t resisting at all,’ Dennis said.
‘I really don’t want to make this about race but its happening more and more and more, and unfortunately now at this point I think it’s a racial thing,’ said Dennis, who is black.
Police said they responded to a call for service regarding a large crowd of teenagers in the mall who were fighting, cursing and harassing customers.
They escorted the teens out of the mall and gave them a verbal warning about trespassing.
Soon after, though, police were called back when several of the teens returned to the mall, including the female seen in the video.
One male teen was taken into custody without incident, but the female began cursing and attempting to incite the other teens, according to police.
The cop punched her side in an attempt to make her unclench her fist so she could be arrested. The victim, with her face blurred, pictured being placed in a squad car
Coral Springs Police released this Rumor Control statement saying that the teen resisted arrest and kicked a police officer as she was being placed in a patrol car
When officers tried to take her into custody, police say she began to fight and resist them.
‘Due to her stature and aggressive behavior, officers took her to the ground attempting to get her to release her fists,’ the department said in a statement.
‘As seen in the video she resisted arrest, and in order to have her comply she was struck in the side to release her clenched fists – she was then handcuffed.’
The department said that the teen female ‘violently kicked’ one of the officers while she was being placed in the back of a patrol car.
The teen faces charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, obstructing an officer without violence and trespassing after a warning.
The department said it is important to have all the facts regarding a police response to a call for service involving a violent subject, ‘regardless of their age or gender’.
The teen’s mother Jessica Dennis (right) said said she is ‘furious’ over the incident. The teen herself (center) declined to be identified or shown on camera
The mother (above) said that she believed the incident was racially motivated
Video of the arrest recorded by a friend of the teen went viral after her arrest, sparking outrage.
The nine-second clip starts with the victim lying on the grass with her face to the ground as the two officers hold her down. A male Coral Springs cop pins her down with his knee on her upper back.
Then he throws three punches into her rib cage.
The victim, who has not given out her name and refused to be pictured on camera, is a high school freshman.
The incident unfolded at Coral Square Mall on Thursday afternoon, pictured above
The victim’s attorney Meeghan Moldof told CBS Miami: ‘I’m not going to comment on the criminal aspect of the case. But to say that the police officer was justified to punch her continuously while he has his knee on her back and her hands under her belly, the video speaks for itself.’
‘The officer’s actions were 100 per cent within policy, legal and were not excessive,’ Deputy Chief Brad McKeone said.
Deputy Chief McKeone said the punches were to gain compliance and not out of malice to intentionally harm the girl.
‘If he wanted wanted to cause harm to her a punch would have been to the face, a punch would have been done to the back of the head. It’s not done as a punishment, again, it’s done to get compliance. Once she did that the officer immediately stopped any other form of distraction technique and immediately took her into custody,’ he said.