See the bottom of the post on page 2 and 3 for the latest updates!
ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 9, 7:03 A.M.: A Santa Ana School Police Department officer is at the center of controversy after someone filmed him putting a young boy in a chokehold. The incident occurred shortly after 10 a.m. yesterday at Adams Park, on the corner of Warner Avenue and Raitt Street.
In the clip, we see a man at the park yelling "You're choking him" at an officer as a motionless boy screams "Help me! Help me!" Though filmed from a distance and on a smartphone, the video clearly captures a cop lying on top of a sobbing
child kid, whose tiny arms are prone on the ground. The cop's arm is around the boy's neck, as he yells "Stop fighting me," only to have the boy scream in pain, "I'm not fighting you!"
Elvia Fernández, who filmed the clip on her phone and allowed the Weekly to use it, said the kid looked to be around 10; his wails and pleas definitely peg him as a
pre-teen pubescent. Fernández tried calming the kid down in a mix of English and Spanish, telling him, "No te muevas", "Relájate", and "Aquí estamos nosotros"–"Don't move", "Relax," and "We're here."
The cop's response? "Stop speaking Spanish!"
(Quick aside: what a pendejo cop to not know Spanish while patrolling SanTana!)
Another woman off-screen asked what happened, and Fernández responded that the officer was arresting the kid for tagging. At the very end of the film, a second cop arrives–all to stop a pre-teen from allegedly tagging– at which point the clip ends. Fernández said she had to leave, but that the officers told her they were calling the boy's parents. His identity–and fate–remains unknown.
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The video has already gone viral on Facebook, with most people thinking the officer belonged to the Santa Ana Police Department. It's actually the school cops, a separate entity. The Weekly reached out to the Santa Ana Unified School District and the Office of the Chief of Police for the SAUSD Police Department to explain the apparent excessive use of force and silly Spanish remark. We'll print their response once we get it.
FIRST UPDATE, APRIL 9, 10:16 A.M.: Deidra Powell, the Chief Communications Officer for the Santa Ana Unified School District, is out of the office for spring break, but called a colleague to forward us the following statement:
The only point of clarification provided by the statement is that the youngster in the video is 14 years old. There remains no word if an arrest for vandalism occurred. Nor is there any comment on the school cop choking the kid as captured on cellphone footage.
The Weekly awaits the investigation's findings.
SECOND UPDATE, APRIL 9, 1:30 P.M.: Alex Sanchez drove by Adams Park yesterday morning when he saw a patrol car parked. The man heard in the now viral video clip tells the Weekly in an exclusive interview what he witnessed go down before footage began and after it ended.
"I noticed that there was a cop approaching a young man at a bench," Sanchez says. "I saw him place his hand on the kid's shoulder and immediately place one of his hands behind his back." He believes the Santa Ana school cop could've easily arrested the 14 year-old at that point, but things escalated.
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"The cop decided to place him on his stomach on the bench," Sanchez says. At that point, the kid got scared, started to wiggle and the cop took him down to the ground. "He was getting choked," he adds. When he heard gargled noises coming from the detained youngster, Sanchez decided to get out of his car to take a closer look.
"He was about to pepper spray him. He had it out and put it close to the eyes." Sanchez tells the Weekly the school cop claimed the youth tried to bite him. Once he caught wind watchful eyes were on him, he didn't use his pepper spray. "What are you doing!" Sanchez yelled at him at that point. The cop repeatedly told him to back up. Elvia Fernández ran to the scene and began filming with her iPhone.
After the footage ended, Sanchez says 10 additional cops arrived to the park. The officer that arrested the youngster went chest-to-chest with him expressing his disdain for Sanchez's comments and tone while letting him know that he was a Sergeant, not an officer.
"He told me that in his mind state, all those little kids right there are gang members," Sanchez alleges. "He told me that there's a lot of gang activity, so every little kid he considers a potential gang member and since he was tagging, he assumed he was tagging for the gang."
As for the last Sanchez saw of the kid? "They had him in cuffs and they were placing him in the vehicle," he says.
Before leaving, Alex Sanchez took a business card from Sergeant Manuel Chavez. The Weekly attempted to contact Sgt. Chavez last night for comment on the incident. We followed up today in regards to what Sanchez claims happened before and after the video.
Both requests for statements have yet to be returned as of press time.
See also: Top 10 Anti-Police Brutality Songs
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz