Video: California police officer punches autistic teen in face

“The officer at that time had the opportunity to deescalate the situation, and he chose to escalate the situation in a manner that resulted in Preston, in my opinion, being assaulted.”

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Recently posted on social media, a doorbell camera recorded video footage of a California police officer throwing an autistic teenager to the ground before punching him in the face.

Around 2:30 p.m. on April 21, a Vacaville resident’s Ring security system captured footage of a police officer approaching a 17-year-old boy with autism and ADHD. The officer ordered the teen to sit on the sidewalk, and the boy immediately complied.

While violently throwing the child’s scooter against the sidewalk, the officer ordered the teen to sit with his legs straight. After the officer suddenly reached towards the boy to grab him, the teen moved back in fear.

As the cop appeared to retrieve an object from his gun belt, the boy attempted to flee. The officer instantly shoved him to the ground before punching him in the face.

“You punched me in the fucking head,” the boy cried.

“You’re gonna get hurt,” the officer can be heard saying in the video. “Don’t make me hurt you more. Don’t make me hurt you more.”

On Friday, Vacaville’s Acting Police Chief Ian Schmutzler released the following statement: “We are scouring the dispatch recordings, body-worn camera video, Ring camera video, and any other visual or audio evidence we can find. I’m working with the leadership within the City of Vacaville and there will be more information provided very soon. Multiple people have asked if the arresting officer knew that the suspect had special needs. In the dispatch audio, there is a conversation between a dispatcher and a different officer, who was not on the scene, who asked whether the suspect was (the unnamed teen).

“Our preliminary review of the available video and radio traffic indicates the arresting officer did not have prior knowledge that the suspect was an individual with special needs. We are in the process of confirming the time stamps of those various sources so we have an accurate timeline of the events of the incident.”

On Thursday, the teen’s father, Adam Wolf, posted the video to Facebook and wrote, “On April 21st at approximately 2:30 pm Preston was Aggressively approached by a Vacaville, California police officer. The officer screamed at him to sit down which he did. The officer then moved Aggressively toward my son, threw his scooter and got in his face. My son became fearful, as would any child with Autism. The officer went to touch Preston, at which point Preston moves away. At this point, Preston was confused and afraid and moves away from the officer even more. At that point the officer felt it was a good idea to THROW Preston to the ground. Once on the ground, the officer climbed on top of Preston and PUNCHED him in the face. All of this was witnessed by multiple neighbors and caught on video. In the video you can hear Preston telling the officer to ‘call his parents’. I don’t believe that Preston will ever trust a police officer again. I am pro police, but I am not pro ABUSE! This individual and department must be held accountable for their actions. NO child, disability or not, deserves to be treated like this.”

During a recent interview with KTXL, Wolf said that his son was playing at a nearby creek when he defended himself with a piece of metal from another boy who reportedly started a fight with Wolf’s son. The other teenage boy suffered minor injuries, and his family reportedly chose not to press charges.

Josh Bartholomew, who recorded the incident on his Ring security system, told KTXL, “I heard screaming and yelling. I came out of the house, I stood right there and that’s when I saw the officer actually strike Preston in the face. According to Bartholomew, he told several officers who were pinning the teen to the ground that he had special needs.

Bartholomew added, “The officer at that time had the opportunity to deescalate the situation, and he chose to escalate the situation in a manner that resulted in Preston, in my opinion, being assaulted.”

Police officials have confirmed that the officer in the video has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation in the arrest.

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