The boy’s father does have pictures of injuries to his son, taken in the hospital. The young man has blood on the side of his face, lips that are swollen, an eye that is nearly swollen shut, and a brace wrapped around his neck. The man says those injuries came not from the car accident, but from police officers who punched and kicked him.
The teen said he wasn’t trying to run from the police and that he peacefully surrendered to them after the crash. He says he even put his hands up to show them that he wasn’t going fight back.
Even so, he claims they jumped on him, punching him, and then kicked him even while he was wearing handcuffs. He claims he was yelling, asking for them to stop, and they wouldn’t.
There is an apparent witness to the alleged assault. That witness claims the teen is right, saying that the force the officers used was excessive. He says he even feared for the young man’s life.
The police, however, tell a very different story. They say that the young man was trying to run away from them, that he never surrendered. Though an investigation is now underway, officers said they had reason to use force with the teen since he would not comply.
Accusations of police brutality are incredibly serious, complex cases. The testimonies of the police officers and the others involved offer differ significantly, as is the case here. Witnesses can shed some light on what happened, but even they may disagree with the formal reports about the incident, or with other witnesses.
For officers, it’s critical to understand what is at stake. These accusations can completely destroy a career. They can ruin what an officer has worked toward for years or even decades. The court case can be long and drawn out, and the accusations may get a fair amount of attention from the public. That’s also the case with this story, as the family’s allegations are being shared on social media and have been seen by thousands of people — who are really just seeing one side of the story.
Those who stand accused of excessive force or police brutality have to know what legal rights they have. The court of public opinion can swing quickly and make things feel dire, but it’s important to focus on facts, standards of proof and working hard to utilize all of the legal tools that are available.