Des Moines, IA — A dramatic video was submitted to the Free Thought Project this week showing Des Moines police officer senselessly pepper spraying and then body slamming a small girl who was half his size.
The video has since sparked backlash against the Des Moines police department by people who think the officer went too far.
The incident took place just after 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday and was sparked over reports of unruly teenagers at the DART Central Station on Cherry Street.
As the Des Moines Register reports:
Authorities said officers tried to prevent fights that were brewing among a “loud and unruly crowd” of dozens of teenagers at the station. The teen who took the video, which she provided to the Register, however, said she believed one officer used unnecessary force.
Sgt. Paul Parizek, a Des Moines police spokesman, said up to a dozen officers went to the bus hub because more than 100 children and teenagers were allegedly being rowdy. He said officers tried to disperse the crowd to prevent fights similar to the ones that led officers to use pepper spray three weeks ago downtown.
Whether or not the kids in the video below were part of this unruly crowd remains to be seen. However, what is no mystery is the officer’s reaction and escalation of force that could’ve sparked a horrible situation.
As we see in the video below, one male teen is seen walking backward away from the officer as he attempts to explain something. As he puts out his hand, the officer escalated force, shoving the young man. This prompted another teen girl to become angry and tell the officer not to assault her brother.
As the girl attempted to tell the officer not to assault her brother, he seemingly became enraged that someone would question him, so he moved in and grabbed the girl.
Not wanting to be touched, the young girl pulled her hand away at which point the cop escalated to chemical weapons and then violence.
“She kept jumping in his face,” Parizek said of his side of the story. “When he told her she was under arrest, she resisted.”
Instead of de-escalating the situation, however, this officer created an environment that put both his wellbeing and the wellbeing of all the children around him in danger.
As the onlookers watch in horror while the officer pummels a little girl, they become angry and surround the officer. At this point, things could’ve taken a turn for the worse.
Luckily for the violent cop, however, his backup arrived and began moving everyone back.
Amari Davis, who took the video, explained that she thinks the officer was way out of line.
“They are treating kids bad for no reason,” said Davis. “He didn’t have to put his hands on her like that.”
As the Register reports, there has yet to be an investigation opened into the incident.
The police department plans to review the officer’s body camera recordings and footage from Des Moines Area Regional Transit cameras at the station. The Des Moines Register has requested those videos, though Parizek and a DART spokeswoman said the videos would likely not be made available until the department’s review is complete. No internal police investigation has been launched; Parizek said a formal complaint is required for that to take place.