A San Diego sheriff’s deputy has a lot of explaining to do after being caught on camera choking and tasing a 13-year-old child multiple times as horrified witnesses cry out helplessly.
Witnesses say he then ordered them to delete videos from their phones, but at least one video managed to survive.
The video uploaded to Facebook on Sunday was recorded Saturday around 4 p.m. as the teenagers were out skateboarding in Fallbrook, a community in northern San Diego County.
It begins after the deputy already has the child, who we will refer to only as “Josh,” in his hands, so we do not know for sure what lead to the assault. A witness is heard saying that the teen appears 15, while the person who recorded it, a friend of the victim, maintains that he is 12, going on 13.
However, the San Diego Union-Tribune, who spoke to the sheriff’s office, reported that he is 13 years and had run away from home, having gone missing for a day-and-a-half. The deputy had spoke to the boy’s mother, who told him where he likes to hang out, which was why the deputy confronted him.
The sheriff’s office also claimed the boy bit the deputy, then reached into his waistband – which is all a cop needs to say to justify killing him:
“He approached him, identified him, verified who he was and said he had to come with him,” (Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan) Caldwell said. “The juvenile refused. As the situation unfolded, he became not only verbally assaultive but physically combative.”
When the deputy went to guide the boy into the car, Caldwell said, he resisted and at some point, bit the deputy in the hand. The deputy pulled out his Taser “to try to calm the situation,” she said.
She said during the scuffle the boy had his hands in his waist band and the deputy didn’t know if he was trying to pull a knife or gun. No weapon was found, she said.
“There were other juveniles and people in the area with skateboards and there was only one deputy,” Caldwell said. “He needed to get the situation under control as quickly as he could.”
Caldwell said the deputy tried to deploy the Taser’s probes but they didn’t hit the target, so the deputy ended up holding the Taser against the boy’s back to subdue him.
Caldwell said the department will look into reports that the deputy ordered other observers who recorded the encounter to delete videos from their cell phones. She also said the deputy did not use a “choke hold” on the youth.
In the shaky video, we catch a glimpse of a horrific scene. The deputy has Josh on the ground in a choke hold and tases him as he screams out in agony. Since shocking him once wasn’t enough for the deputy, he tased him again for good measure, according to Johnny Daza, 18, who posted the video to Facebook.
“He’s choking him out, look, he’s choking him out. Hes tasing him!! What the fuck man?!” Daza cries out as other witnesses scream that he is just a kid. “Look he keeps tasing him!” Daza calls for someone to call the police, as another witness also threatens to call the police, despite the fact that police were the ones assaulting the child.
We spoke to Daza to find out what happened before he began recording and he told us that the group of friends were just out skateboarding when they spotted a sheriff’s vehicle parked in the distance. Skateboarding is illegal in most public places in Fallbrook, but the kids have no place where they can practice their passion legally and therefore often have to break a few rules.
The teens stopped, expecting the deputy to say something to them, but he didn’t, Daza explained. Josh and another friend decided they were going to head to his house as his hand was hurt and he wanted to get it checked out by his family.
“As he walked by the officer, the officer said ‘get in the car please,’ and Josh asked ‘why’, because he was confused. The officer gets out the car and grabs him and throws him down. Josh was saying ‘my hand hurts, my hand’. Then the officer than just put him in a choke hold. I saw his face red like a tomato.” Daza explained to PINAC. [The officer] then starts tazering Josh in the lower back spine and that when the officer pointed his tazer towards us, thinking we were gonna stop him or something, but we backed off and the officer just choking him and still tazering him. We were yelling ‘get off him, get off him’. Then he just picked him up like he was a doll and put him in the back [of the police vehicle].”
Daza explained that he and his friends were afraid for their lives, expecting to receive the same treatment from the deputy. He told us that when backup arrived they initially wanted to handcuff the rest of the group.
The deputy claimed that Josh had bit him. It is unclear if he did or not. The deputy was reportedly treated in an ambulance for the alleged bite.
“So they all separate us, ask for our information, and took pictures of us all, even the minors. Another friend was recording only a little bit, so he didn’t much, but they asked to see his phone and the video- and they tried erasing it. They asked me if I was also recording, but I said no because I didn’t want them looking at the video.” Daza said.
Daza says that him and his friends are now concerned about all skateboarders facing retaliation from deputies if his video goes viral because they have no place to skate legally.
A massive debate broke out in the comments section of the video, with many defending the deputy and stating that the child should have respected his elders and that he shouldn’t have been skateboarding. Others, defended the child, and began calling for a skate park to be built so kids can legally play outside.
“Oh boy.. Stupid ..the kids probably shouldn’t be there in the first place .. Sucks but the rules are there for reason . We all grew up there and had rules as well and they need to be followed for a reason.. You all are pathetic for crying wolf .. Teach your kids to respect the law and what not,” Kelly Fellin commented.
“Where is the fallbrook skate park that I donated money to years ago?? Where do the money go to? The poor kid. Hope we find out who this cowboy is.” A user named Maldune Magilicutty wrote.
Daza has just one question for all those defending the deputy, “where can we skate ? There for sure no skate park in Fallbrook.”
UPDATE: Here is the press release from the sheriff’s department that includes photos of the deputy and bite marks on his arms. The press release also says they asked for and received a copy of video footage which is now in evidence, but does not clarify if it’s the same video as below.