Coral Springs, FL – The Coral Spring Police Department is defending officers featured in a now-viral cell phone video that showed an officer using distraction strikes to try and subdue a struggling, combative 14-year-old girl (video below).
The incident occurred on Thursday, after Coral Square Mall security officers contacted the police department to request assistance with a group of “unruly teens,” the Coral Springs Police Department said in a Facebook post.
Security officers said the juveniles “had been harassing patrons and causing a disturbance,” and one woman at the mall told police that her 5-year-old child was “shoved to the ground” by one of the kids in the group.
Mall security also told the officers that one of the females in the group was seen hitting another teen.
At the request of mall security, the Coral Springs officers issued trespass notices against the juveniles that prohibited them from returning to the mall.
The officers then turned their attention to another, unrelated call at the mall, but were soon told that the group of teens had returned to the property, despite the warning and trespass notices they had just received.
Officers located the group and arrested one male individual without incident.
But when his female friend saw him being taken into custody, she “began cursing, attempting to incite the other teens,” the police department said.
Police said the girl was also the suspect accused of striking another juvenile at the mall during security’s earlier request for assistance.
“Officers attempted to take her into custody, at which time she began to fight and resist arrest,” the department said. “Due to her stature and aggressive behavior, officers took her to the ground, attempting to get her to release her fists.”
The video showed the girl as she struggled on the ground with her hands tucked firmly beneath her, kicking her feet.
One officer delivered two distraction strikes to the side of her torso in an attempt to get her “to release her clenched fists,” police said.
“Why you hittin’ her?” a girl off-camera screamed. “She can’t do it! She can’t do that! Her hands are underneath her! The f–k you hittin’ her for?”
The teen was then placed into handcuffs, but “violently kicked one of the officers” as they were placing her into the back of a patrol vehicles, police said.
“As with all social media posts, [the video] shows only the end of the story, not the incident in its entirety which led up to the arrest,” the police department said.
“The Coral Springs Police Department believes in transparency,” the agency continued. “It is important for people to have all of the facts before rushing to judgment of an officer’s actions when faced with calls for service involving violent suspects – regardless of their age or gender.”
The girl’s mother, Jessica Dennis, said she was “heartbroken” when she watched the video of her daughter fighting with the officers, according to WPLG.
“He went completely overboard,” Dennis said of the officer’s actions. “Her hands were pinned up… It was just too much.”
“They just seemed nonchalant,” she complained. “They didn’t care.”
Dennis claimed that the video was proof that her daughter didn’t fight with the officers.
“She clearly wasn’t aggressive. Everyone could see she was laying there,” Dennis told WSVN. “So I just want justice to be served.”
Dennis’ attorney, Meeghan Moldof, said the altercation was clearly an incident of excessive force.
“It’s clear from the video that my client was on the ground. Her hands are under her belly, the officer’s knees are on her back, and he’s just gut-shotting her, like one after another,” Moldof said.
Coral Springs Police Department Deputy Chief Brad McKeon defended the officer and said he had done nothing wrong during his effort to subdue the combative teen, according to WPLG.
“That officer’s actions were 100 percent within policy, legal, and were not excessive,” Chief McKeon said.
You can watch cell phone footage of the officers’ encounter with the combative teen in the video below: