Cell phone video of a San Diego Police officer arresting a 15-year-old student on the Lincoln High School campus will be part of an internal investigation to ensure the officer acted appropriately.
The video shot last Friday shows freshman Eric Smith getting pulled to the ground by an officer performing a vascular neck restraint, also known as a “chokehold.”
“It’s allowed under certain circumstances” said SDPD Captain Jorge Duran, who added the move is permitted under the department’s force matrix guidelines.
The student taking the cell phone video can be heard yelling “Look at what they’re doing to this kid.”
Smith’s mother Desiree Grant saw it for the first time Sunday morning.
“I literally broke down at church just from what I seen,” said Grant.
The video doesn’t show what prompted the confrontation. Smith was drunk; he admits to ditching his second period class to drink vodka with friends.
He passed out five hours later on the football field bleachers during an in-school homecoming rally while listening to music on a classmate’s phone.
During Smith’s drunken nap, he says someone took the phone, and when the classmate accused him of stealing it, police were notified.
The SDPD officer was on campus assisting a San Diego Unified School District officer because it was a busy Halloween Friday.
The officers searched Smith’s pockets. They didn’t find the phone, but they did find a lighter which is not allowed on school grounds.
“When they went to take the lighter from him, he resisted and they began to struggle with the student,” said Duran.
Smith, suspended for two days by the district, says he can’t stop thinking about the incident and can’t sleep.
“I felt like they did too much, they didn’t have to do all that,” he said.
His mom agrees. “He is facing punishment from me. I’m not sugar coating his behavior, but the excessive force and the chokehold and the manner they conducted themselves didn’t set well with me,” said Grant. “At no time was that officer’s life threatened where he had to use excessive force.”
Adding to Grant’s frustration, she says she wasn’t notified of the incident until 5 p.m., three hours after it happened. By that time, her son had already been booked into Juvenile Hall for felony battery on an officer.
According to the arrest report, the arrest was made at 2:30 pm and the family was notified at 3:50 pm.
The San Diego Police Department says it will conduct an internal investigation into the incident and arrest after Grant filed an official complaint. The department now looks into every single citizen complaint as part of a renewed effort toward transparency.