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Pittsburgh, PA — The same night police shot and killed an unarmed child as he ran from a traffic stop last week, they also threw a 12-year-old boy to the ground and repeatedly tasered him. The incident was captured on video and it has the boy’s parents and the community outraged.
According to Octavia James, the boy’s mother, her son’s name is Michael James Jr. She says police were walking through their neighborhood that night when Michael James Sr., the boy’s father, was drunk and confronted them.
She said James Sr. eventually ran in the house. She said her husband tried to close the door but her arm was still in it. Police then kicked down the door and dragged her husband outside and then down the stairs.
According to James, her son then ran outside to help his father who he perceived was being hurt and unlawfully attacked by police. She said he never raised his arm or even threatened police.
“Four plainclothes officers came down the street and kicked her door, to get in her house after she kept saying ‘Wait, wait, wait. There’s kids here. There’s kids here,'” the woman who took the video, but did not want police to know her name, said.
“They actually pulled him out the door, slammed him on the ground and continued to Taze (sic) him with no shirt, no shoes, just shorts on. I continuously yelled, ‘He’s 12 years old, He’s 12 years old.’
“On the video you can hear us screaming, telling the cops, ‘He’s only 12. He’s only 12. Why you gotta keep tazing (sic) him? He’s only 12 years old,'” she said.
Speaking to WTAE News, police say the story unfolded in a similar way, but with a few different details. Pittsburgh police spokesperson Chris Togneri released the following statement detailing the police version of events that night:
“This incident is already under review by police, and that review continues. Findings so far include:
“Plainclothes police were patrolling the area when they were approached by a man who grew increasingly angry at the officers’ presence in the neighborhood. The man’s wife tried to intervene. The man assaulted her.
“Police attempted to arrest the man. As this was occurring, the man’s son emerged from a house and punched the arresting officer in the face. The officer deployed his Taser to subdue him.
“It was later determined that the boy is 12. At the time, the officer only knew that someone had struck him in the face while he was attempting to make an arrest on a male who had assaulted a female. Police did not know he was 12, as he is over 6 feet tall.
“As stated, this incident is under review.
“Per policy, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police officers only use force as a last resort,” said Togneri.
It appears that Togneri hasn’t seen the video of the officer shooting a fleeing 17-year-old boy, Antwon Rose Jr. in the back, killing him. At the time, Rose posed no threat to the officers as he was unarmed and running away. However, Michael Rosfeld — who was sworn in with the department on the night he killed Rose — had no problem using deadly force as a first resort.
What’s more, according to Octavia James, the police handcuffed the boy, put him on his stomach and then tasered him. Backing up her claims is the photo of the taser prong wound in the boy’s back.
“When they had my son down on the ground, not only was he handcuffed, the one officer’s hand was still on the trigger tasing (sic) my son,” said James.
“The witnesses are saying that my son did not swing at the officer.
“I’m not saying that my son running out was the right thing to do, because it wasn’t.
“They used way too much excessive force towards my son, and after the fact that they knew and were told that he was 12 years old.
“This can’t keep going on because who says for the next child, like Antwon (Rose), 17 years old, shot in the back by running. A 12-year-old being tazed (sic). What’s next?” said James.
Below is the video.
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