SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The family of a 12-year-old boy who was put in a spit bag while being detained by Sacramento police is planning to file a complaint against the city.
Attorneys representing the 12-year-old and his family are asking for an excess of $100,000 for physical injuries, emotional distress, and other damages.
On April 21 of this year, the boy was detained after reportedly running away from a security guard who claimed he was panhandling and asking for people to buy him things. Two nearby Sacramento Police officers saw him and stepped in to help the guard.
The boy’s lawyer, Mark T. Harris, claims the officers assisted detaining and arresting the boy “without reasonable suspicion or probable cause” by placing handcuffs on him.
Cell phone video captured the 12-year-old boy detained by Sacramento police and calling for “mom.” Moments later, as he was walked toward a squad car, the video appears to show an officer wiping his face.
According to the complaint, a short struggle ensued, and the boy was placed on his stomach on the ground while one officer placed his knee on the boy’s back and the second officer placed his knee on the boy’s thigh. The officers then put the 12-year-old on his stomach, handcuffed, while another officer takes out a spit mask and places it over the boy’s head.
The boy’s 15-year-old sister arrived at the scene and ultimately called their mother, LaToya Downs, who was not contacted during the incident, the complaint alleges. When his mother arrived at the scene, she reportedly panicked because her son allegedly suffers from an upper respiratory disease which she feared would cause breathing difficulties with the spit bag.
Ultimately, the boy was cited for battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest and was released into this mother’s custody.
Speaking about the incident to CBS13 in May, Downs demanded an apology from the Sacramento Police Department for how they handled her son. She says the officer’s treatment of her son was degrading.
“It shouldn’t have happened, it shouldn’t have got this far, and I want justice, I want justice for African-American girls and boys,” Downs said.
Harris, who works for the Ben Crump Law firm handling the Clark case, is representing the family.
“I’ve never heard a situation where a 12-year-old child had a bag placed over his head,” Harris said. “I don’t care what you call it, a spit propulsion, repulsing device, they can call it whatever they want, a bag is a bag is a bag.”
Earlier this year, police said their officers were simply following policy.