The Rancho Cordova Police Department and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office are both investigating after a viral video showed an officer pinning down and punching a 14-year-old Elijah Tufono, who was already on the ground as the officer attempted to detain him.
The officer, identified by Fox40 as Rancho Cordova Police Officer Brian Fowell, reportedly saw the moment when an adult handed some tobacco over to Tufono, who had asked the stranger to buy the product for him.
“And [the officer] asked me what was that in my hand. And I had gave him, as soon as he asked me that, I just gave it to him,” Tufono told the news station.
According to CNN, the officer was patrolling after complaints in the area of alcohol, tobacco and drug sales to minors. He lost sight of the adult, but attempted to detain Tufono, who the department claimed was being “uncooperative” and refusing to give his information.
The department claimed Tufono was “physically resistive,” causing the officer to lose control of his handcuffs.
“He’s on top of me and it looks like he’s about to hit me. Like, I’m reacting like any other normal human being would,” Tufono told FOX40. “It could’ve been better on both of our parts in this situation.”
Tufono acknowledged that out of fear, he was not completely truthful to the officer, as the officer became more and more confrontational despite being given the tobacco right away.
“I did lie to him and I didn’t cooperate, and I know that and I made that mistake. But that didn’t give him no right to do what he did,” Tufono said.
The teen was eventually cuffed and put in the back of a patrol car before being cited and let go.
“It just kind of broke my heart. Anger and frustration went to sadness, especially the fact that he has a heart condition. And that’s the immediate thing that got to me,” Tufono’s uncle, Justin Tufono, told Fox40. “I’m just so happy that he was able to come home alive.”
Despite the incident, however, the teen said that he has no hard feelings toward the cop and hopes they can meet again in the future on better terms.
“I mean, I do forgive him. I have nothing against the cop. He was just doing his job, I guess,” Tufono said.
“Sir, I’m sorry for the way that I acted toward you and for not cooperating. And I just hope that we could meet again and be on better terms,” the teen added.