Photo Credit: screenshot via Ariel Collins/Facebook
An Athens-Clarke County police officer who restrained a distraught 10-year-old boy was justified in his use of force, according to internal affairs documents Flagpole obtained through an open records request.
An investigation by Lt. Richard Odum, head of the department’s Office of Professional Standards, found that “no policy violations occured and the force used was reasonable.”
The investigation started after the boy’s cousin posted a video to Facebook of officers holding down the boy. The video went viral, and many viewers complained that the officers were being too rough.
The officers went to the Sartain Drive home on July 20 to look into an allegation that a man there had choked his ex-girlfriend. They arrested the man, which led to his son becoming extremely upset.
According to the internal affairs report, the boy behaved aggressively by pulling up on his pants, stepping toward the officers and pounding his fist into his hand. After several female relatives who were trying to control him gave in to the father, who told them to let him go, the boy (who weighs 55–60 pounds) ran toward Officer James Trotter and jumped at him.
Officer Shawn Bond caught the boy in mid-air, and they landed on the hood of Bond’s patrol car. Bond held the boy as he was kicking and put him on the ground, where he straddled the boy and held him down with his arms but did not put his weight on him. The women on the scene began yelling at Bond, and one put her hand on his shoulder. He yelled at her to get back.
Meanwhile, Trotter was still putting the suspect in the back seat of the car. He then came over to help Bond calm down the boy. The boy then spoke to his father before he was taken to jail.
“The child initiated the physical contact with the officer and the officer reacted. The officer only used open hands in restraining the child but was preparing to use handcuffs,” the report concludes. “There were no charges filed against the juvenile in this incident even though his actions would be probable cause for Obstruction and Disorderly Conduct.”
During the investigation, police met with relatives of the boy, reviewed body-camera video and written reports and interviewed Bond, Trotter and an intern who was on a ride-along during the incident.
The investigation was closed July 27 with a finding of “exonerated” for the officers. But under Georgia’s open records law, the report was not available to the public until 10 days after it was completed.
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