The police department of Baton Rouge, Louisiana has been knee-deep in damage control ever since one of the department's officers was recorded as he pinned a Black thirteen-year-old boy to the ground in a headlock.
The 23-second video clip, taken by the boy's aunt, ignited swift backlash from the Baton Rouge community as well as the internet at large.
Like far too many videos of Black men under the restraining force of White police officers, bystanders pleaded with the officer to let up on the boy.
They repeatedly shouted, "You're choking him!" until the officer finally let go, only to then handcuff the 13-year-old.
The boy was taken to juvenile detention and released later that same day, according to The Advocate.
A video is circulating showing a @BRPD officer trying to arrest a teen. The family says, the teen, 13, was allegedl… https://t.co/0990GFICax— Jonah Gilmore (@Jonah Gilmore) 1613967176.0
Twitter comments reflected how exasperated so many people are upon seeing yet another video of a Black person in a dangerous physical restraint.
@JonahMGilmore @o_keilani @BRPD REGARDLESS THE SITUATION NO NEED FOR ARMS AROUND THE NECK EVER. Never, ever.— Roy (@Roy) 1613967965.0
@JonahMGilmore @BRPD A 13 year old.— sandie (@sandie) 1614030559.0
@JonahMGilmore @BRPD You can't be crying about wanting respect and then treating and handling people any kind of wa… https://t.co/Mb1MaSa0bj— creativemind225 (@creativemind225) 1614001543.0
Upon seeing the video herself, Baton Rouge mayor-president Sharon West Broome immediately initiated an administrative response.
In a statement, she assured the Baton Rouge community that she and Baton Rouge Police Department Chief Murphy Paul were reviewing the footage and the whole situation.
Notably, though, she never outright condemned the officer's conduct, only going as far as to call it "questionable."
See Broome's entire statement below.
Statement by Mayor Broome: https://t.co/lbNTam1XUo— Sharon Weston Broome (@Sharon Weston Broome) 1613962266.0
In a joint press conference addressing the incident, Broome and Paul stated they have asked a judge to release bodycam footage from the incident, WAFB reported.
A judge's permission is required to released bodycam footage when the individual involved is a minor.
According to Chief Paul, the incident began when police were called to respond to reports of a group of teenagers arguing and holding baseball bats. Police arrived, things settled down, and the officers left.
But a half hour later the arguing resumed and police responded again, at which point two 13-year-olds were arrested.
One was the boy in the video, who was charged with disturbing the peace, battery of a police officer, resisting an officer, and interfering with the law.
The other child was released "with a summons for disturbing the peace and resisting an officer," according to WAFB.
The boy's attorney, Ron Haley, was satisfied with Broome and Paul's swift response, but still hoped to gain further justice.
"I appreciate the swift response from Mayor Broome and the promises made by Chief Paul. However, too many times in our community we see obvious police misconduct go unchecked and unpunished."
"No unarmed child should be choked and manhandled by a police officer."
"If that officer did not have a badge or a uniform on, and was an adult on the ground with a child in that manner, he'd be arrested."
The officer has not been placed on administrative leave or faced any other punitive measures following the incident, pending the investigation.
When WAFB reached out to Andrew Scott, a former Florida police chief who now works with attorneys to clarify use-of-force dynamics, he explained that he wasn't surprised the officer hasn't faced punishment.
"The general public has to understand that the 23-second clip (posted to social media) of the interaction between the officer and the juvenile is just a snapshot in time of what transpired prior to or even after the encounter."
"When I looked at that video, there was nothing wrong tactically that the police officer was doing."
"The individual was capable of breathing and the officer had placed his body weight into the chest of the young boy."
The Baton Rouge Police Department's handbook on use of force stipulates officers "will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances."
Thus, the question moving forward will be how the Baton Rouge Police Department interprets the restraint used by the officer in this situation—and the fact that it was a 13-year-old boy.
Hopefully, the reviewed bodycam footage ensures a just and fair response to the situation.