Video of Sacramento police officers arresting a 12-year-old black child and putting a “spit mask” over his head has been shared by thousands on social media in recent weeks. On Wednesday, Police Chief Daniel Hahn defended the April 28 arrest of the young boy, saying the officers involved acted “appropriately.”
The Sacramento Police Department also released on Wednesday body-worn camera footage from the involved officers, who say they were helping a security guard in north Sacramento after they saw him chasing the boy, who he accused of trespassing.
Video taken by a bystander shows officers and security guard struggling to handcuff the boy, then later pinning him to the ground and placing a white mask over his head after he had spit at an officer.
Sacramento attorney Mark T. Harris represents the boy, whose name has not been made public by the department. He wrote on social media that people need to be “aware of what happened to this young man who was doing nothing more than trying to enjoy the benefits of a neighborhood carnival.”
Police say the boy was released to his mother after being cited for battery and resisting arrest. In a statement on Wednesday, Hahn wrote that the officers “appropriately used a spit mask to protect themselves and defuse the situation.”
The bystander’s video, which was posted to Facebook by Sacramento’s Black Lives Matter chapter earlier this month, shows a contentious situation, with police officers telling onlookers to stand back as they struggle to detain the boy, who repeatedly asked why he was being arrested.
Police body-worn camera footage shows an officer say, “He spit on me,” then later applying the mask over the 12-year-old’s head.
Video shows the boy state that he had difficulty breathing with the mask over his head. “We will not tolerate our community, particularly our young people, being treated in the way this young man was treated,” his attorney Harris wrote in a statement.
This latest incident comes in the wake of use-of-force complaints against the department after last year's fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark.