SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Update September 23: The Sacramento County Sheriff's spokesperson said Wednesday that the deputy has been fired. The Sheriff's Department provides deputies to the Rancho Cordova Police Department.
Update August 28: A Sacramento County Sheriff's spokesperson told ABC10 Friday that there is "an open administrative investigation and litigation is pending."
Original story May 14:
Sacramento civil rights leaders are calling for an independent investigation after a Rancho Cordova police officer was caught on video punching a 14-year-old boy on April 27.
Betty Williams, President of the Sacramento NAACP, told ABC10 that the organization spoke with, and sent a request to, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and Rancho Cordova Police Chief Kate Adams demanding major changes into both departments and more information in to incident.
"We think it's important for us to know if this officer has had any other incident," Williams said. "We are also asking for an independent investigation. We are not comfortable with the internal affairs."
The NAACP requested records of the officer involved, any audio from the incident, as well as the policies surrounding the department's dash cam usage.
Williams said they are also demanding both Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies and Rancho Cordova Police officers begin wearing body cameras and that the NAACP assist in creating policies for them.
The organization is hoping that the city of Rancho Cordova will step up and "support payment for body cams for better transparency for their city."
Williams said they'll be lobbying for the city to include a line item in their council meetings for including body cameras in their budget.
"We're not asking for them to approve the entire budget, but we are tired of waiting for body cams for the sheriff," Williams said. "It appears they are the only [law enforcement department] in the nation who still don't have body cams."
Sgt. Tess Deterding, a spokesperson for Sheriff Jones, said in a statement that the sheriff's office has been in contact with the NAACP, with whom they've had "good dialogue about this incident, like we do regarding many issues."
"But part of maintaining that good, open dialogue involves not allowing our discussions to be played out in the media," Deterding said. "That's unproductive."
The NAACP announcement comes weeks after the teen's family demanded the officer involved be placed on unpaid leave until he's removed from the department entirely and charged with child abuse, assault and endangerment.
Adante Pointer, a civil rights attorney with the Law Offices of John Burris which is representing the teen's family in suit against Sacramento County, said the officer should be "taken out of policing period."
The now-viral video
A 15-second clip of the incident between the unnamed officer and the teenager has since gone viral, gaining attention from actors, activist and former Democratic Presidential candidates Julian Castro and California Senator Kamala Harris.
According to a statement from the Rancho Cordova Police Department, the deputy was patrolling the area of Mills Station Road and Mather Field Road "due to complaints from citizens about hand-to-hand sales of alcohol, tobacco and drugs to minors."
The department said the deputy believed he saw a hand-to-hand exchange between an adult and juvenile. The deputy apparently lost sight of the adult in the alleged alcohol exchange, and approached the teen for information.
The department said the teen told the deputy that he was 18-year-old and was "uncooperative and refused to give the deputy basic identifying information."
The deputy tried to detain the boy to conduct further investigation because he had reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was occurring, according to the statement.
"The juvenile became physically resistive at that time, causing the deputy to lose control of his handcuffs, which landed several feet away," the statement said. "The deputy attempted to maintain control of the juvenile without his handcuffs and while alone waiting for his partners to arrive and assist him."
Damarkus Cummings, who filmed the now-viral video of the incident, said his friend was not resisting arrest.
"He was trying to ask why he was getting arrested, why are they putting handcuffs on him," Cummings told ABC10. "And [the deputy] slammed him down and started punching on him and all that."
Rancho Cordova Police Chief Kate Adams, who started her position the same day the incident happened, said she shares the same concerns as the community. She said she is dedicated to mend ties with the family and ensures the excessive force investigation will be carried out "efficiently and with compassion."
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