SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A 14-year-old boy is opening up about his violent arrest Tuesday in a Santa Ana park.
The incident made headlines after a park visitor captured the incident on their phone and posted it online. It’s since gone viral.
The video shows a Santa Ana school department police officer laying on top of the boy’s slight frame as passersby yell for him to “stop choking” because he’s “a little kid.”
The teen spoke Friday in an exclusive interview with CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Art Barron. He’s now wearing an ankle bracelet after being arrested on suspicion of tagging a bench in Adams Park.
“He throws to the floor and then I tell him to stop, to get off of me,” the teen said. “But he starts choking me and I bite him from a reaction.”
“He pinned me down after I told him to stop,” the teen said.
“We try and communicate as best we can with the kids, and we hope that they comply. Unfortunately, when they put themselves in this situation, they really force our hand and we have to take them into custody,” said Hector Rodriguez, chief of police for the Santa Ana Unified School District.
Rodriguez says the officer was on top of the teen to restrain him until other officers arrived.
“I don’t see concrete evidence that there was a choke. The young man was screaming — had he been placed in a choke hold, he wouldn’t be able to yell out,” Rodriguez said.
In addition to the arrest for marijuana possession and vandalism, the teen faces charges of resisting arrest and assaulting an officer by biting him.
The teen says he believes the officer could have made the arrest less physical.
“Just ‘cuff me, give me a ticket and drop me off at home,” he said.
The officer involved, an 8-year veteran with the department, has not been placed on leave, Rodriguez said.