A Florida police officer was seen on video punching a 14-year-old girl who resisted arrest on Thursday, October 18, 2018. The video was posted on an Instagram account of a person identified as Victoria Cedeno, “victoria_babyyy,” the day after the arrest and went viral.
Police in Coral Springs, Florida, are defending the officer’s action after he was filmed punching the girl while she was pinned to the ground during an arrest. The Coral Springs Police Department has issued a statement saying the cellphone video doesn’t tell the entire story.
“The officer’s actions were 100 percent within policy, legal and were not excessive,” Dept. Chief Brad McKeone told reporters, according to CBS Miami.
The department said officers were called to the Coral Springs Mall on Thursday because teens were harassing patrons, a mother claimed that one of the teens shoved her 5-year-old child to the ground.
Police banned the group from the mall at the request of its security team, but the teens eventually returned and police were called back again. One male teen was taken into custody without incident, but the female began cursing and attempting to incite the other teens, the Daily Mail reported.
When officers tried to take her into custody, police said 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.
“Officers attempted to take her into custody, at which time she began to fight and resist arrest. 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.
“No policy was violated,” Coral Springs Police Officer Tyler Reik told SunSentinel on Monday, October 22. “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 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.”
Mother Of The Teen Said Police Went “Completely Overboard”
Jessica Dennis, a mother of the female teen, who does not want her daughter to be identified, disagreed with the police.
“I truly believe it was excessive force because my daughter was lying there, she wasn’t resisting at all,” Dennis said in a news conference, CBS reported. “Her hands are pinned up, he’s fishtailing her whole body with her shorts. It was just too much going on and she clearly wasn’t aggressive,”
The 14-year-old, who refused to be pictured on camera, is a high school freshman.
Deputy Chief McKeone told the Daily Mail that the punches were to gain compliance and not out of malice to intentionally harm the girl.
“If he 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,” McKeone said.
The family’s attorney, Meeghan Moldof, only spoke about the moments captured on video and said she wouldn’t 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.”
Police said they are not investigating the officer’s actions, however, that could change if the mother decides to file a formal complaint.