Clarke County, GA – Athens-Clarke County police officers are facing claims of brutality for their handling of a hysterical child when they were arresting his father on Friday (video below).
Police were in the process of arresting Jawoski Collins for aggravated assault and false imprisonment in a domestic violence case when his young son had a complete meltdown and attacked the officers, WXIA reported.
Bodycam video from the incident was released by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department on Monday after a video taken and posted by family members on Sunday went viral and set off a firestorm.
The officer’s bodycam video showed the officer handcuffing Collins while various family members stood around asking why he was being locked up.
The officer explained to Collins that he was going to jail for “ag assault by strangulation, okay, as well as false imprisonment.”
Collins’ son, wearing red in the video, started screaming at the officer almost immediately, and initially, other adults tried to calm him down and pull him away from the officers, the video showed.
But then the child returned and started screaming again.
Collins asked the officer if he could talk to his son, and the officer let him.
He told his son several times to “chill,” but the child became even more hysterical and approached the officer shrieking “he didn’t do nothing! He didn’t do nothing!”
When the officers went to put Collins in the back of a patrol car, the child blocked their path screaming “you’re not going nowhere!” over and over again, the video showed.
At that point, the child put his hands on the officer, and in the video, the officer can be heard saying to the boy “don’t do it man” in a soft calm voice.
An adult pulled the child back behind the group one more time. And then the child ran right back at the officer, full steam, attacking him.
The video showed the officer grabbed the child and put him on the hood of the patrol car, face down.
“You don’t grab an officer,” he told the child.
“Yes, officer,” the child replied.
“You don’t do that,” the officer said in the video.
Meanwhile, several family members surrounded the officer in defense of the child.
“Back up! Everybody back up,” the officer yelled.
Chaos broke out and the child started flailing again, and the officer grabbed him and carried him several feet to the grass beside the driveway and put him on the ground, the video showed.
The child squirmed and screamed while the officer told him to quit resisting, and the family members screamed at him.
Then the officer told the child that he needed to calm down or he’d put handcuffs on him. And the officer also told him that he wasn’t under arrest, the video showed.
The video showed that the officer let the child back up after he calmed down, and then the family members came after him screaming and asking why he did that.
“He attacked an officer,” he responded in the video.
The other officer on the scene stepped between that officer and three adult women at that point, and backed them away from the police car.
Once everyone had calmed down a bit more, the video showed the officer walked the little boy down to the car where he promised to bail his daddy out of jail in a heartbreaking scene.
The boy’s family was outraged at how the situation was handled, and told WXIA they thought the officers should be fired.
“They should be fired because if they do one child like that they’ll turn right back around and do somebody else child,” his grandfather told WXIA. “They could do your child like that – your child – anybody else child like that.”
But the Athens-Clarke County Police Department released a statement on Monday that said the boy was “extremely emotionally distraught” and that the officer had tried to deescalate the situation.
“Our officer caught the child in mid-air and the momentum of the child launching himself caused the both of them to land on the patrol car,” the statement said. “The child continued to be emotionally distraught, and continued the outburst, at which time our officer placed him on the ground.”
Police said that once the child was back on his feet and calmed down, he “was not resistant” to officers, WXIA reported.
“Our officer began to console the child and help him to understand what was happening to his father,” the police statement read. “The child asked to speak with his father and was allowed to do so by our officers.”
WXIA reported that Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Scott Freeman has ordered an internal affairs investigation into the incident.
You can see the original cell phone video below, and the bodycam below that: