The Sacramento Police Department is reviewing an incident where a 12-year-old Black boy was held down by police officers and a spit mask was placed over his face.
The video, originally posted on Black Lives Matter Sacramento’s Facebook page on May 8, shows a boy being handcuffed by two police officers and a security guard. The guard, who says he is with Paladin Private Security in Sacramento, tells officers that the boy was stopped because he kept asking people to buy things for him at a nearby Walgreens and was trespassing.
In the video, the boy is taken to the parking lot by the officers and the security guard. The boy can be heard saying, “Yeah, I spit on you all. How do you like that [expletive]?” before one officer can be seen wiping her cheek.
The police department released a statement and posted body camera footage of the April 28 incident to Facebook on May 22. The department stated that two uniformed police officers were driving in a marked vehicle near Del Paso Boulevard and El Camino Avenue when they saw the boy running from a security guard. The officers stopped to detain the boy, who spit on an officer’s face “multiple times.”
Additional officers arrived on the scene to help with the arrest; officers then placed a spit mask on the subject to “prevent him from spitting,” according to the department’s statement. The video shows the boy spitting on an officer’s face minutes before the spit mask was placed on his head. The boy was released to his mother later that day and cited for battery against a police officer and resisting arrest.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn defended the officers involved in the incident and said they used the spit mask “appropriately.” The department is currently reviewing the incident, ABC10 reported.
“Our officers involved in this incident appropriately used a spit mask to protect themselves and defuse the situation,” Hahn said in the statement. “I am grateful that our officers were willing to proactively intervene when they observed suspicious activity, and that nobody was injured during this encounter.”
Attorney Mark T. Harris identified his client as 12-year-old Isaiah, NBC News reported. He told The North Star that during the time of the arrest, Isaiah was attending a carnival with his friends. Harris said while the boy was there, his adult chaperone with the group asked him to get change from his car in the parking lot and gave Isaiah his car keys.
While Isaiah was grabbing the change, Harris said the security guard approached him and accused him of stealing from the car, as well as asking people to buy him things at Walgreens. The 12-year-old ran away from the security guard because the security guard reportedly asked for the car keys.
Harris told TNS that the police department’s account of the incident is a fabrication. He said Isaiah’s family is demanding an apology from the police department and an investigation of what happened.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Harris said. “The good news is that the young man was not seriously injured because anything bad could have happened.”
Harris said the 12-year-old boy is currently going to therapy because he has trouble eating and sleeping. He said he believes the incident was racially motivated and notes that this would not have occurred if the boy was white.
“All you have to do is live, work, or walk in the Black and Brown communities in America to know what this is,” said Harris. “This is disrespect and disregard for Black children and their parents.”
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.