Photo: The Advocate
  /  09.10.2020

A police officer has been placed on administrative leave and two others removed from their duties after a disturbing video showed the cops violently arresting a Black 16-year-old. The incident occurred in Lafayette, Louisiana outside of a bowling alley on Saturday night (Sept. 5). According to reports, police had responded to a call about an armed man on the premises.

When police did not find anyone with a gun, they returned to the bowling alley around 30 minutes later to conduct a traffic stop. They claim that one of two teenage twin brothers fit the description of the alleged armed man and they stopped to search him. The twins — whose names have not been released due to their age — were waiting in line outside of the bowling alley in compliance with the business’ COVID-19 occupancy limits.

Police and witnesses say the teenager was cooperative and unarmed while officers patted him down. It wasn’t until his twin brother approached the officers to see what was going on that the cops became aggressive. A disturbing video taken by onlookers showed a group of cops tackling and punching one of the teens repeatedly, while the line of bowling alley customers scream in horror.

“I believe it turned physical because he may have approached the officers and got into their personal space,” Lafayette Sgt. Wayne Griffin said of the incident. “Then it turned physical. I’m not going to go into details of who swung first or anything like that. I just know that it turned physical.”

A Facebook user shared video of the incident and wrote, “The guy was not resisting or anything. They slammed him into the door and then unto the ground, hitting him. He was not resisting.”

The brother who approached the officers was arrested and charged with interfering with a police investigation, resisting arrest and battery of a police officer. Neither of the twins were armed and there were no weapons found at the scene.

After clips of the violent arrest went viral, interim Lafayette Police Chief Scott Morgan announced on Sunday (Sept. 6) that one unidentified officer had been placed on paid administrative leave and two others were removed from their regular duties. Morgan has also launched an investigation into the incident.

The teens’ parents have now hired attorney Ronald Haley, who is also representing the family of a 31-year-old man who was killed by Lafayette police last month. During a press conference on Monday (Sept. 7), Haley said that the brothers had been targeted by the officers several times over the past few months.

“They’re boys,” Haley said. “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.”

“I think this is a problem — systemically — of Black children being perceived as older than what they are and perceived as threats and handled completely differently than other kids,” he added.

Haley demanded that the police department release body camera footage from the violent altercation and share more information about the police call that led to the arrest.

“I’m here today to demand answers,” he said. “We want the 911 call in which one of the boys allegedly fit the description of someone who committed a crime. What was that description? What was he actually doing? Was that call actually made?”

“Once again, we find ourselves disturbed, witnessing excessive use of force against citizens, lack of deescalation tactics and poor training; proving the sense of urgency for major police reform,” Lafayette Parish NAACP President Marja Broussard said of the video. “We look forward to working with the Mayor-President’s administration, community leaders, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to ensure these things do not happen again. This must stop.” 


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