West Virginia — This week, one of the most disturbing videos we've ever reported on involving the savage beating of a handcuffed 16-year-old boy was released. Though the incident happened in November of 2018, authorities refused to release it until now as one of the officers involved has been indicted.
Berkeley County Prosecutor Catie Wilkes Delligatti released the video this week of several police officers involved in the pursuit of an unnamed 16-year-old boy, whose name and face have been redacted to protect his identity.
According to police and the video, the boy led officers on a several minutes-long chase before crashing the vehicle he was driving.
After the vehicle stops, the officers rush to the window and rip the tiny boy from the car like a rag doll. Had he needed medical assistance, he was getting none. Had he had an injured back, officers couldn't have cared less and just the way they ripped him from the vehicle was enough to cause severe injury. But it got much worse.
After he's ripped from the car and slammed face first into the pavement, as the teen's body lay limp on the ground, he is immediately placed in handcuffs. Then, for several moments the officers begin kicking, stomping, and punching his unresponsive body.
As if this wasn't enough, after the teen was bleeding out and entirely unresponsive, one officer is seen placing his knee on his back, pressing down with his full weight before unleashing a fury of punches to the entirely restrained and unresponsive boy's face. In that melee alone, the officer would dole out 8 punches to the teen's face.
A minute later, the 100 lb teen is yanked to his feet but remains entirely unresponsive and limp as he's thrown down to the side of the road.
After the incident the teen was hospitalized but has fortunately since recovered. Because of his age, details about the severity of his injuries remain sealed as well as whether or not he was actually charged with a crime.
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Troopers Michael Kennedy and Derek Walker and two sheriff's deputies were all fired in January. However, one of those deputies was rehired after a hearing.
Kennedy, 29, of Morgantown, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
"The brutality witnessed in this video is shocking but all too familiar," said Loree Stark, the American Civil Liberties Union's West Virginia chapter's legal director, in a statement. "Law enforcement has a constitutional responsibility to avoid excessive force, and it is crucial for videos like this to come to light so that offending parties will be held accountable."
Highlighting the violent history of Walker as well, according to wvpublic.org, Walker also faces an excessive force lawsuit filed last year by a Charles Town attorney who says the trooper dragged his wife and slammed her to the ground in 2016 while she was talking to construction workers about a sidewalk project. State police responded to the scene when a worker allegedly backed his truck into the driver's door of her SUV in a parking lot.
Gov. Jim Justice said the incident "cast a dark shadow" on law enforcement. Indeed, we agree. As you watch the video below, it is clear that these officers had no regard for the life of this teenage boy.
Yes, this teen made a mistake and he deserved to be held accountable for any alleged crimes he may have committed. However, the officers' job description does not include "punishment." That is up for the courts to decide, which would never hand down a sentence that included being beaten nearly to death for joy riding in a car.
The crash and subsequent assault happens at the 5-minute mark in the video below. Warning, the video may be disturbing to some viewers.