Sacramento police are reviewing an incident in which officers handcuffed a 12-year-old African American boy near a neighborhood carnival, then held him down on a parking lot and placed a spit bag over his face as angry bystanders recorded the events on video.
The incident, which has spread on social media and was posted on Facebook by Black Lives Matter Sacramento, sparked criticism online, including from Sacramento attorney Mark T. Harris, who posted a video of himself with the boy and his family and said “we will not tolerate ... our young people being treated in the way this young man was treated.”
“We want to make sure that the greater Sacramento community, the state of California and the world is aware of what happened to this young man, who was doing nothing more than trying to enjoy the benefits of a neighborhood carnival,” Harris said on the video, which carries the logo of the law firm of Ben Crump, a nationally known civil rights attorney.
Sacramento police said Tuesday that the incident occurred April 28 at 7:47 p.m.
Two officers saw the boy running away from a security guard and stopped to help the guard in the area of El Camino Avenue and Del Paso Boulevard, said spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler.
While detaining the boy, he allegedly spit in an officer’s face “multiple times,” so officers put a “spit mask” on him, he said. The boy was later released to his mother and cited for battery against a police officer and resisting officers, Chandler said.
Asked if the incident was under investigation, Chandler said, “we are looking at this entire incident.”
The video begins with a private security guard and two police officers handcuffing him as bystanders ask for their names and demand they call his parents. The guard tells the officers the boy was stopped because he was asking people to buy things for him at a nearby Walgreens and was trespassing.
The boy is marched to a parking lot as a man videotaping the event repeated, “You’re doing this to a minor ... his parents should be here.”
“Yeah, I spit on you all,” the boy says before one officer can be seen in the video wiping her cheek. “How do you like that s---?”
“Look at that, look at that, police brutality,” the man says minutes later in the 25-minute video as the boy is forced down onto a parking lot.
Tanya Faison, Sacramento Black Lives Matter founder, said the individuals responsible “should all be held accountable.”
“Our police should know how to handle a tiny, 12-year-old boy,” Faison said.
Harris runs the Sacramento office of the Crump firm and says the family has retained them and anticipates filing lawsuits over the incident.
“The kid’s a good kid,” Harris said. “He’s a small, slight kid, he’s under 4-foot-8 and he weighs less than 80 pounds.
“He’s a little bitty kid. None of this should have come down the way it did.”
The Crump firm has offices nationwide and represents members of the Stephon Clark family, who are suing Sacramento police over the March 2018 shooting death of Clark, an unarmed black man who was running from officers before he was shot.
Settlement discussions in that lawsuit are currently under way between the city and attorneys for family members.
The video comes as Sacramento police continue to struggle with accusations that they over police African American neighborhoods and frequently resort to the use-of-force unnecessarily.
Anger over the Clark shooting and other use of force against black residents have spawned demonstrations and numerous lawsuits, including one filed Tuesday against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol over the October 2018 death of 36-year-old Marshall Miles, who died in the county jail after being arrested.
Another suit was filed last week against the city over Sacramento police breaking up a Stephon Clark demonstration in the city’s Fab 40s neighborhood that ended with the arrests of 84 people.