An Augusta mother is outraged at a deputy’s manhandling of her teenage son Sunday afternoon after he was spotted selling bottled water in the road.
The woman, who declined to identify herself, claims she is hiring an attorney to help respond to how the Richmond County officer grabbed her 15-year-old son.
“It looks like he is trying to break his arm like a chicken wing,” she said.
Two bystander videos show the unidentified officer wrestling the teen to the ground and asking him to calm down. At the same time, a bystander yells at the deputy to stop, and a gentleman pulls over near Skinner Mill Road and Boy Scout Road to try to intervene.
On Monday, the sheriff’s office declined to release the deputy’s body-cam video, saying the case is “pending prosecution,” according to a post by The Jail Report.
Witness Sydney Heiberger, a local TV reporter, said she witnessed the incident. She said the officer was telling the kids they could not run in the middle of the street while selling water.
“This officer did take this teenager to the ground and hold him there for several minutes. I saw the teenager hit, kick, and resist the officer in the process,” Heiberger wrote on Facebook. “As this was happening, a crowd was forming, traffic was being held up, and the officer was alone. The teenager was eventually let go. No one was arrested.”
According to the teen’s mother, who was returning Sunday from Atlanta, her children, ages 10-15, were selling water with other kids. The sheriff’s deputy spotted them and turned around. He apparently wanted them off the dangerous road.
The boy’s aunt said the video concerns the family because of how violent the officer was. She said he had his knee on her nephew’s back. The teen could have stopped breathing, the aunt said.
The teen’s mother said she talked Sunday to a sheriff’s sergeant. The mother says the deputy claims the children ran from him and were cursing.
“I still don’t think he should have put his hands on him like that,” she said. “I don’t even do that, and I am his momma.”
She says she would rather the officer have used a taser. As a result of the incident, her son suffered a sore shoulder.
Meanwhile, someone donated a cooler full of water to the children after witnessing the incident. And the video was shared hundreds of times on social media with local residents posting their reactions.
“As someone who knows the officer in question, I can say this: he’s not someone who abuses force or handles confrontation in anything less than an utmost professional manner,” said James Michael Laird. “He is very involved in his community.”
Jesse Brown Sr. said, “Why would he even bother them for selling water, but ignore the homeless who begs for money. This doesn’t make any sense. “
Mark Brown said the teens needed to be warned about the dangerous road, but the deputy should have de-escalated the situation.
“Even if those teens were in traffic, they have to be taught, they’re freaking teens,” Brown said on Facebook. “How else do you learn without being taught? Those teens should have been chaperoned, true enough. However, officers are trained for situational events such as this, and it should have been handled better. Positive engagement probably would have worked out better for all involved.”