A Georgia police department is under fire after a video of two officers violently restraining a nine-year-old Black child went viral over the weekend.
The footage was captured last Friday when police officers in Athens responded to a domestic violence incident.
After one of the parties involved in the incident, Jawoski Mandell Collins, was arrested, his nine-year-old son “became extremely emotionally distraught,” Athens-Clarke County police spokesman Epifanio Rodriguez said in a statement following the department’s release of the body camera footage.
When family members tried to restrain the boy, he was able to escape them and lunged at one of the officers.
“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,” Rodriguez said.
The child continued with the outburst, at which time the officer “placed” him on the ground, according to the statement. The officer told the child he was not under arrest and that he would let him up if he would remain calm. In the video, family members can be seen trying to intervene.
The viral video starts once the child is on the ground and two officers are on top of him.
“These mfs done slammed my lil cousin on the car first (the footage I didn’t get) then on the ground and he’s only 9,” said Ariel Collins, who posted the video .”… and, FYI Eric didn’t do anything but was tryna talk to his dad who was in the police car. THAT’S IT!!!!!”
“Our officer began to console the child and helped him to understand what was happening to his father,” Rodriguez said, suggesting that the public watch the full video before passing judgment. “The child asked to speak with his father and was allowed to do so by our officers.”
But Collins, the child’s cousin, and the rest of the boy’s family disagree with how the situation was handled. “If you don’t know how to control no 9-year-old, you don’t deserve a badge,” she told WSB-TV.
This incident is one of dozens of violent encounters caught on camera in the last 5 years that illustrate the root of the ongoing disconnect between police officers and members of the Black communities they are assigned to protect. These incidents continue to support the dire need for reform in the way law enforcement is trained to interact with Black and Brown people.