Less than one week after protesters flooded the streets of New York in reaction to the Eric Garner grand jury decision, another disturbing video has emerged of police officers appearing to abuse a citizen in their custody — eerily similar to the video that captured Garner's death last July.
Phone footage allegedly shows a young girl being heavily restrained by a police officer in Mesa, Arizona. The footage, captured by motorist Luis Paul Santiago and uploaded to Facebook, appears to show a police officer pushing her face-first into the pavement following what Santiago describes as a punch to the face.
More disturbingly, the girl can be heard screaming "I can't breathe" — the same words Eric Garner uttered before he went into cardiac arrest and died on the sidewalk in Staten Island.
Santiago stated on Facebook that the second woman in the video was the girl’s mother, who attempted to explain to the officer that her daughter was “emotionally unstable” and suffering from asthma.
Santiago wrote that officers at the scene stated that the female officer restraining the girl had “acted correctly.” He also claimed that an officer told him: “If [the female police officer] needed to, she can shoot her dead.”
Mesa Police Department spokesman Det. Steve Berry claims that the video captures a "pretty straightforward incident."
"We received a phone call from the mother indicating that he daughter was a problem, was out of control, and that she had gotten out of her mother's vehicle and was walking away," Det. Berry told Mic. "A female officer arrived and told her to stop. She kept walking. It's when the officer grabbed her on the arm that she turned and punched the officer in the face. That's when the video starts. And I guess that's the thing: These videos never start when the incident starts."
Berry told Mic that the girl had been arrested for aggravated assault and was currently undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.
"I hate to say it, but this was handled in a standard way," Berry added. "I think people are getting bent out of shape because the reports say 'teenager.' This is a full-sized person fighting another full-sized person, not some 280-pound cop beating up on a 12-year-old child."
It's understandable why the video has sparked such a reaction online. While the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Garner in New York and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland sparked controversy over police brutality and the excessive use of force, the death of Garner in particular has put the old issue of police chokeholds under scrutiny. Nearly 30 states have made strangulation and choking (or “knowingly impeding someone’s breathing”) a felony over the last 10 years.
This story has been updated throughout.
h/t Independent/Free Thought Project