The Vacaville Police Department in Northern California is investigating an incident that occurred in a residential area involving an officer and an autistic teenager.
Ring doorbell footage caught a member of the Vacaville Police Department assaulting a 17-year-old boy on a sidewalk in a suburban neighborhood. The officer can be seen shouting demands at the teen before he hurls him to the ground. A second video shows the policeman punching the kid and shouting at him. The father of the victim, Adam Wolf, posted the viral videos on Facebook along with a detailed message about the incident.
“Some of you know and some of you don’t, but my 17-year-old son, Preston, has autism and ADHD. He looks and acts younger than he is,” Wolf wrote. “On April 21st at approximately 2:30 p.m. Preston was aggressively approached by a Vacaville, California police officer. The officer screamed at him to sit down which he did. The officer then moved aggressively towards my son, threw his scooter and got in his face. My son became fearful, as would any child with autism.”
“The officer went to touch Preston, at which point Preston moves away. At this point, Preston was confused and afraid and moves away from the officer even more,” Wold continued. “At that point the officer felt it was a good idea to throw THROW Preston to the ground. Once on the ground, the officer climbed on top of Preston and PUNCHED him in the face.”
The incident was witnessed by several neighbors. Vacaville police were reportedly called to the scene because Preston had gotten into a fight earlier in the day. Wolf told CBS affiliate KTXL that his son picked up a piece of metal or a metal pole to defend himself during the altercation. An adult broke up the fight and Preston left to go play with one of the neighbors.
In a statement released on Facebook, Vacaville Police Department Acting Chief Ian Schmutzler said that he appreciates the “justified concern” regarding the incident involving one of his officers. He said that the policeman was not aware Preston had autism but that the department is fully investigating the matter.
“We are scouring the dispatch recordings, body-worn camera video, Ring camera video and any other visual or audio evidence we can find,” Schmutzler said. “Any time there is a use of force, it is difficult to watch. Uses of force are taken seriously by the department and all use of force incidents are reviewed by the supervisor, the watch commander, and a use of force review committee.”
“I want to assure you that I do not take this circumstance lightly and that I am dedicated to doing all I can to ensure accountability and transparency as we examine ALL aspects of this incident,” Schmutzler added.
Regardless of their findings, Wolf said he doesn’t believe his son “will ever trust a police officer again.” “I am pro-police, but I am not pro-abuse!” he wrote on Facebook. “This individual and department must be held accountable for their actions. No child, disability or not, deserves to be treated like this.”