LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A police officer in Louisiana has been placed on administrative leave and two others have been temporarily pulled from their regular duties after videos posted on social media showed an officer punching a Black teen during an arrest.
Lafayette police spokesman Sgt. Wayne Griffin told news outlets that police were called to a bowling alley in Lafayette on Saturday night regarding a person with a gun in the parking lot. Officers who arrived at the scene did not find a person who matched the caller’s descriptions and left the scene, according to Griffin.
He said the officers came back to the same parking lot about 30 minutes later for an unrelated traffic stop and saw a teen who matched the prior caller’s description.
Griffin said the teen was cooperative when officers patted him down for a weapon, which he did not have on him.
It is during this interaction that Griffin says another teen “may have approached” the officers and “got into their personal space.”
“Then it turned physical,” Griffin said. “I’m not going to go into details of who swung first or anything like that.”
The family of the arrested teen has since hired Ronald Haley, a lawyer who is also representing the family of Trayford Pellerin, The Daily Advertiser reported. Pellerin, a Black man, was fatally shot by police last month in Lafayette.
Haley said Monday that the Saturday incident involved 16-year-old twins.
It is not clear what happened between the time the teen approached the officers and the physical altercation ensued.
One of the videos posted on social media shows the teen walking up to an officer. The officer then says “get off me” and shoves the teen twice.
Another video of the arrest shows the teen being restrained on the ground by two officers as a third officer punches him. The officers then put a handcuff on the teen and take him to a patrol car.
“I saw a police officer attack a 16-year-old child and shove him 5 feet, and then, once he was on the ground, begin to punch him in the head repeatedly,” community activist Jamal Taylor told The Advocate. “Making a Black man out to be the aggressor in that situation is, to me, an attempt to cast doubt and give cover to police officers that act reprehensibly.”
The teen was arrested and booked on counts of interference, resisting arrest and battery of an officer, Griffin said. He was released to his parents after the arrest.
Haley said he wants more information about Saturday’s arrest, including the body camera footage and the recording of the 911 call.
“They’re boys,” Haley said at a news conference on Monday. “They’re not threats. They are children. They are children morally, and they are children in the eyes of the law, and they should be protected as such.”