A teenager punched in the face by police had autism and was “confused and scared” when he started running away from a California officer, the 17-year-old’s father said.
A Ring camera video posted on Facebook shows the Vacaville Police Department officer chasing the teenager for a short step before knocking him to the ground and punching him.
“You’ll get hurt, don’t get hurt anymore,” the officer in the video is heard saying before two more policemen arrive.
Adam Wolf posted the video of his son, Preston, on Facebook on Thursday. Although Mr. Wolf did not immediately respond to a request for comment, he told the local Fox8 affiliate upon news that his son had grabbed a metal object to defend himself against local bullies shortly before interacting with the police.
The video begins when the officer approaches and yells commands to Preston, who was sitting on the sidewalk. A moment later, when the officer approached, the teenager rose from the ground and walked away.
“At this point, Preston was confused and scared and moved further away from the officer. At that point the officer felt it was a good idea to throw Preston to the ground,” said Mr. Wolf in the Facebook post.
Vacaville Police Department Chief Ian Schmutzler said in a statement to The independent that officers had been called in to report someone actively “stabbed”, while they had also received descriptions of “pipe or knife” involved.
He said the department was investigating the use of force and that officers visited the Wolf family to discuss the event and ensure accountability.
“Multiple people asked if the officer who arrested knew the suspect had special needs. In the audio of the dispatch, there is a conversation between a supervisor and another officer (who was not at the scene) who asked if the suspect had special needs. I suspect it was ‘Preston’, “said Mr. Schmutzler.
“Our preliminary review of the available video and radio traffic indicates that the arresting officer was unaware that the suspect was a special needs individual.”
In his Facebook post, Mr. Wolf said he doesn’t believe Preston will trust yet another police officer.
“I’m in favor of the police, but I’m not in favor of abuse!” He said. “This individual and department must be held accountable for their actions. No child, disabled or not, deserves to be treated this way.”