San Diego Sheriff's officials are defending tactics used on a runaway teen whom a deputy tackled and tased in an incident caught on camera, detailing the sequence of events that led to an officer firing a taser.
The 13-year-old Fallbrook boy, reported as a runaway by his mother for nearly two days, was recorded by witness Jonathan Daza with a cellphone as it happened.
"I think its been portrayed as...an out-of control deputy and I think the deputy was very conscientious in this case," said Sheriff Bill Gore.
At a news conference Monday, Gore identified the deputy involved as Jeremy Banks, a seven-year veteran of the force.
"In actuality, what we have is an out-of-control juvenile who could have prevented this whole ordeal just by obeying the commands of the deputy and getting in the car so he could be returned to his mom," Gore said.
Gore said the teen, reported as a runaway at least five times previously, was found at the first place Banks checked, behind a set of stores on the 1100 block of South Mission in Fallbrook around 5:30 p.m.
The deputy soon confirmed it was the runaway when he got closer to a group of kids skateboarding.
At first he told the juvenile he needed to come with him and would take him home multiple times, Gore said, but the teen refused and put up a fight.
When Banks placed his hand on the teen’s arm, he became combative and bit the deputy.
"To me that's not the actions of someone complying with a deputy," Gore said. "That's when the deputy deployed his taser."
In the video, you can hear someone yelling, “he’s choking him out, he’s choking him out.”
“It was not a choke hold or carotid restraint…simply getting control of a flailing child,” said SDSO spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said, adding that the SDSO does not use choke holds.
Banks did use a Taser, Caldwell said, and one of the prongs struck the child.
The teen had his hands in his waistband, Caldwell said, so Banks was unsure if the teen had a weapon. The deputy got the teen in the car, and he was later released to his mother, who Gore said was "greatly relieved he had been found and apologized for his behavior."
"I think it was an appropriate use of force," Gore said.
Liandro Cardenas, a teen that witnessed the incident said he and his skateboarding friends were in a lot with “no skateboarding” signs behind stores on the 1100 block of South Mission around 5:30 p.m. Saturday when it happened.
That’s when they say the deputy approached their friend.
“The officer said, ‘You don’t want to get dropped, right?’” Cardenas said. When asked what dropped meant, Cardenas said it meant, “taken to the floor and handcuffed.”
After the incident, Gore said, Banks went out and asked if anyone had recorded the incident and then recorded that footage for department record because deputies do not wear body cameras. Gore said the deputy did not erase or confiscate anyone's video from the scene.
Gore said the teen has been charged with resisting arrest and was booked into juvenile hall. Any further charges will be determined by the District Attorney's office.
The SDSO has launched a standard investigation into the use of force in the situation.