An unidentified police officer punched a mentally ill 14-year-old girl who was being escorted down a hallway at a Citrus Health System treatment center for mentally disturbed teens.
The incident was caught on a surveillance video (below) in Pembroke Pines, Florida on April 28, but the recording is just now being released.
As the girl is walking down the hallway with several police officers, one of the cops grabs her arm, she yells and swats him.
In response, the police officer delivers a violent punch with a closed fist at the girl's face.
Several police officers then pushed the teen to the floor and sprayed her with mace. She was charged with resisting arrest.
A Pembroke Pines police spokesperson defended the actions of the police officer by saying the mentally ill girl struck the officer first.
“It was shocking to see the amount of violence that occurred. It was shocking,” Assistant Broward County Public Defender Jeff Hittlemen told CBS Miami.
“They are acting out in their mental illness. And to draw off and strike a child in the face with enough force to try to knock her head off is nothing more than an excessive use of force,” said Gordon Weekes, Broward’s Chief Assistant Public Defender.
According to the public defender's investigation of the facility, children are often tied to their beds and given drugs to restrain them, which is illegal.
Josephine van Hemert, a lawyer for Citrus Health Systems, said the public defender’s claims are “a misrepresentation of procedures used to restrain these children when they are out of control or attempting to hurt themselves or others.”
In response to the public defender's claims, the Department of Children and Families, Agency for Healthcare Administration and the Pembroke Pines police department are going to investigate the claims of child abuse at the facility.
Source: CBS Miami