Caught on tape: Cop punches teen

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An ugly exchange between a Kalamazoo, Michigan police officer and a 16-year-old boy was captured on the officer’s dash-cam back in April.

What was seen and heard on the tape now has the police officer suspended for ten days without pay.

Kalamazoo police internal investigators got dash-cam video and talked with officers and the 16-year old involved.

The video shows a lot of what happened.

The April 5th incident starts routinely as officers stop to question three young men after reports of shots being fired in the area. The youths are uncooperative.

One of them bolts and is tackled. Sergeant Jeff Vanderwiere handcuffs the 16-year old who is screaming obscenities at the officers and takes him to the ground when he tries to pull away.

At one point the sergeant is pinning him to the ground when the youth, kicking and cursing, spits in his face and Vanderwiere delivers three quick punches to his face.

According to the internal investigation report Vanderwiere later told his boss that “I think I broke my finger, punching him. He spit in my face, so I punched him.”

According to the internal investigation the 16-year-old admitted drinking a pint of liquor before the incident.

He continued to struggle in the police car, and at the jail. They pepper sprayed him to get him under control.

When they found out he was 16 and not 17 as he had told them, they took him to a hospital to be checked out and then to juvenile custody.

The suspended sergeant told investigators that the youth spit directly into his eyes while he was trying to control him and maintain view of other officers.

He says he did not want to get spit on again so he delivered three quick jabs to the face.

The internal report concludes there was no intent to injure the youth but that the strikes were delivered out of frustration.