In a disturbing viral video, an Arizona deputy was caught on camera strong-arming a 15-year-old quadruple amputee inside his group home and now he is facing investigation.
The Sept. 26 confrontation was regarded as a “spectacle” by the teen’s attorney Joel Feinman. He was arrested for disorderly conduct but the charges were subsequently dropped after the eight-minute video surfaced on a local TV news station showing the deputy using excessive force against him.
“Our office was not given any opportunity to review this video until Nov. 14,” said Pima County Attorney’s Office, chief criminal deputy, Jonathan C. Mosher. “The same day we first saw the video, we took action to dismiss the charges pertaining to this incident.”
On Friday, the deputy at the center of the encounter, Manuel Van Santen, was placed on administrative leave, The New York Times reports.
“It’s a horrible spectacle,” said Feinman said. “He was assaulted by a man with a badge and a gun, just screamed and cursed at.”
The 15-year-old, identified simply as Immanuel because he is a minor is seen in the video screaming, reportedly because he “wanted to go back to school,” according to Mr. Feinman. Police were called to the group home, located in Tucson, after a worker reportedly called because of the teen’s outbursts including knocking over a trash can, the Times reports. Footage of the incident was first run by Tucson station KOLD, which was provided the video by the Pima County Public Defender’s Office.
The deputy reportedly tackled Immanuel and pinned him down after he tried to move past him, Feinman said. He can be heard on the video screaming for the officer to let him go.
The officer screams and yells at Immanuel. The altercation was caught on cell phone video by another 16-year-old group home resident, identified as “C.J,” who was also arrested for trying to intervene.
Neither of the teens were formally charged but were processed and then released from a juvenile detention center, the outlet reports.
An internal investigation is underway, said James Allerton, an officer with the department.
The group home takes in boys were have been neglected or abandoned and come from dysfunctional home environments, Feinman said.
“These are boys that have already been traumatized, and we are just adding trauma upon trauma, abuse upon abuse,” Feinman said.
“The deputy treated Immanuel with contempt, especially given how old he is, his physical condition and what he had already been through,” he added. “He did not pause to think for a moment that the boy deserved to be treated like a child and a human being.”