A video of a 13-year-old Black boy who’d been handcuffed by DC Metro Police is making waves around social media and bringing into question officers’ use of force when handling minors.
A concerned bystander, Donroy Ferdinand, and his friend happened to catch the incident between officers and a young boy unfold Thursday night as they were about to leave the Shaw-Howard U Metro station in the nation’s capital.
The Howard University student told radio station WAMU that he was disturbed and whipped out his cellphone to record three Metro Transit Police officers who had handcuffed the 13-year-old.
“I was upset,” Ferdinand said. “I was not happy seeing a black kid who looks like me when I was that age in handcuffs. So I was just trying to figure out what was going on.”
Now the Metro Transit Police Office of Professional Responsibility and Integrity wants answers too after the video went viral, which appears to show the aftermath of a confrontation between the cops and the kids.
“There were no citizen complaints received outside of social media or from the respondent’s family,” the spokeswoman wrote to WAMU, but she did say the online video would serve as a citizen’s complaint.
She continued, MTPD is “not in a position to make any conclusory statements” since the investigation is ongoing. The officers are still on duty, the spokeswoman told the outlet.
According to an incident reported filed by the Metro police, the boy ran onto one of the trains and was grabbing another boy’s arm “in a manner as if they were fighting.” The minors however explained that they were “just playing.”
Two officers reportedly stopped the boys from “horse playing,” according to the report, and tried to get their names and parents’ phone numbers from them, but they refused.
The report states that one of the boys stood up from a bench and when an officer stepped toward him, the boy pushed him away. The officer told the boy he assaulted him and was under arrest, the report said. The officer tried to handcuff the boy as he struggled to break free.
“He placed his hands in his pockets and refused to comply with my instructions to give me his arms,” the report reads.
Once he was handcuffed, another officer searched the youth. Ferdinand’s video footage picks up after the boy was handcuffed.
“What present danger does this kid serve? Why is he in handcuffs?” Ferdinand says in the video. “He just admitted, when he stepped on the officer’s foot, that’s an assault,” the officer says in the video, trying to explain the boy’s alleged disorderly conduct. “Once he assaulted the officer, yeah, you go in handcuffs. Once he stepped on the officer, he assaulted the officer.”
“I can appreciate that you are very concerned, I hear it, I understand, you’re confused about what’s going on. I’m confused about what’s going on,” the officer says in the footage.
“He’s crying and screaming and saying it hurts, and they keep exerting more force,” Cordell Mimms, a musician who witnessed the ordeal told The Washington Post. “It escalated very fast. It was jarring and shocking to see two grown men do that to a boy.”
The boy was then escorted off to Children’s National Hospital, after complaining of injuries and he was taken with officers and without a parent present.
At the hospital, the boy reportedly continued to get disorderly.
“[The] respondent started to become disorderly and failed to follow the instructions of the officers.” As officers tried to “secure the respondent to the bed,” the boy “started to kick his foot” and kicked an officer in the center of his chest, the incident report states.
“I’m terrified for him. Imagine how scared he is,” Ferdinand says in the video.
The boy’s mother told The Washington Post he spent the night in a juvenile processing center.
“I’m not for sure yet if they’re going to charge him or if he’s going to do a diversion program or what right now. They’re still gathering all the information.”