On Friday, October 19, police officers responded to reports of “unruly teens, who had been harassing patrons and causing a disturbance” at a mall in Coral Springs, Florida. During the resulting altercation, captured on video, officers pinned a 14-year-old girl to the ground and repeatedly punched her in the side as a woman screams “Why you hitting her?” off-camera.
This is a Coral Springs police officer repeatedly punching a 14-YEAR-OLD BLACK GIRL.
This is WHY WE KNEEL!!
RETWEET THIS! pic.twitter.com/k8IdfAabai
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) October 19, 2018
The video, first posted to Instagram by a woman claiming to be the child’s cousin, went viral on Twitter, where many are decrying the arresting officer’s actions as police brutality.
This is why Colin Kaepernick kneels. This why Americans support him. Enough of this corruption in the police. https://t.co/GiBHQLS1eX
— MisterZeroV (@AlanQuinnV) October 19, 2018
She's a kid. Can't they find a better way? https://t.co/mJMaxHKRR1
— Ei has had it with the GOP (@EileenCumming20) October 19, 2018
The Coral Springs Police Department issued a statement attempting to explain the officer’s behavior. According to them, the 14-year-old girl was acting aggressive and refusing to release her fists so she could be handcuffed, leaving officers no choice but to strike her in the side. They also claimed she tried to kick a police officer while being escorted to the police cruiser.
— Coral Springs Police (@CoralSpringsPD) October 19, 2018
While Twitter users didn’t doubt the officer’s story of the 14-year-old’s misbehavior leading up to her arrest, many thought the officer’s treatment of the young girl went too far.
♀️Geez i'm tiny,i worked on locked down psych Unit. We were taught how 2 restrain.Cross her ankles,n hold em,turn her 2 her side,n just grab her an arm. Damn if me n my female coworkers can w/dudes bigger then us who r having psychotic episode. without punching? ♀️
— Jackie (@JaxieGirl7) October 20, 2018
This is beyond disgraceful.
— Reuben Jones #BoycottNRA (@reubeniii87584) October 19, 2018
My question again WHAT DID SHE DO? for him to punch her like that!!
— Tally Kimble (@TK99213731) October 19, 2018
The officer’s choice of action definitely seems like an extreme one considering the girl’s age.
In the kidneys…I hope she is ok
— DavidDennison'sAbortedChild (@igneousidol) October 19, 2018
This is a child.
— Polly Ticks (@PTicks2) October 19, 2018
Real tough guy!!! This officer needs to be brought up on charges.
— George (@BlackDu20389780) October 19, 2018
Jessica Dennis, the girl’s mother, commented on how painful watching the video was for her:
I really couldn’t keep watching it. It was just too much, because it just makes you angry. I mean, I was heartbroken. She clearly wasn’t aggressive. Everyone could see she was laying there…so I just want justice to be served.
I can’t even watch this. It’s sickening.
— resistunitevote (@akam242424) October 19, 2018
The family has hired attorney Meeghan Moldof and plans to file a formal complaint of excessive force against the police force. Moldof commented to WSVN:
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.
There is no reason for a grown man to repeatedly punch a 14 year old little girl. None. That officer and your police department should be DEEPLY ashamed of that behavior and this dreadful, blame the victim response.
— Scare-icaJoy (@EricaJoy) October 19, 2018
Dennis says her trust with local police has been broken and that she “no longer feels safe in the area:”
I’m angry. I would never expect this to happen
doesn't matter, she is down and not a danger. The kicking was excessive and does not appear warranted
— Paula (@paulak1665) October 19, 2018