Video of California cop pinning and punching teen, 14, sparks investigation

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A California police officer is under an internal investigation after a viral video showed him allegedly pinning down and punching a 14-year-old teenager for possessing a cigar.

The video, which was posted on Twitter by the boy’s family, showed a Rancho Cordova police officer hitting the teen as he struggles on the ground.

The officer is then seen attempting to turn the boy, who is lying on his back, onto his stomach and then pins his head into the ground. The unidentified officer then punches the boy in his chest before flipping the boy again.

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The person who posted the video on Twitter, who identified herself as the teen’s sister, said her brother has a serious heart condition “that could be triggered very easily by being hit in his chest/back.”

“He’s a kid and has never been in any kind of trouble with the law! He was very scared and in so much pain,” a second tweet said.

The video has been viewed nearly 180,000 times.

“It’s important to put video footage into context, especially in relation to a use of force incident,” the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, on behalf of the police department, said in a statement, adding that an investigation into the use of force was underway.

According to the statement, the officer was patrolling the area on Monday due to complaints about hand-to-hand sales of alcohol, tobacco and drugs to minors.

“In this case, the deputy saw what he believed to be a hand-to-hand exchange between an adult and juvenile. As the deputy turned around, he lost sight of the adult, who left the area,” the statement continued. “When the deputy approached the juvenile, the juvenile was uncooperative and refused to give the deputy basic identifying information.”

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The teenager told the officer he was 18, according to the statement. When the officer attempted to detain the boy to further investigate the situation, “the juvenile became physically resistive at that time, causing the deputy to lose control of his handcuffs, which landed several feet away.”

After the scuffle caught on camera, the teenager was eventually handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car. The officer recovered tobacco products from the 14-year-old, “which is presumably the reason for his resistance.” He was cited and let go.

The teenager, Elijah Tufono, told FOX 40 that he was “reacting like any other normal human being would,” when approached by the police officer.

“It could’ve been better on both of our parts in this situation,” he said.

The teen told the news station the trouble began when he asked a stranger to purchase some tobacco for him and he had it in hand.

“I did lie to him and I didn’t cooperate, and I know that and I made that mistake,” he admitted. “But that didn’t give him no right to do what he did.”

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Tufono said he has nothing against the cop who was “just doing his job, I guess.”

“Sir, I’m sorry for the way I acted towards you and for not cooperating. And I just hope that we could meet again and be on better terms,” he said.