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Florida Cops Repeatedly Punch 14-Year-Old Girl While She’s Face Down on the Ground

Cops in suburban Florida are under fire after two members of the Coral Springs Police Department (CSPD) were captured on cell phone video repeatedly beating a young black girl who was pinned face-down to the ground.

Described as “difficult to watch” by the Miami New Times, two white cops hold down the 14-year-old as one of them punches her twice in the ribs. An onlooker implores:

Why are you hitting her? She can’t do it. She can’t do that. Her hand’s underneath her!

Jessica Dennis is the girl’s mother. In comments to TV station WSVN News 7, she expressed her disbelief at the violence inflicted against her daughter by the officers in the video.

“I’m angry. I would never expect this to happen,” she said. “She clearly wasn’t aggressive. Everyone could see she was laying there, so I just want justice to be served.”

To that end, the girl’s family has obtained the services of attorney Meeghan Moldof who also spoke with the local TV news station. Moldof noted:

It’s clear from the video that my client was on the ground. Her hands are on her belly, the officer’s knees are on her back, and he’s just gut-shotting her, like one after another.

The CSPD insists their officers did nothing wrong–and in fact, is taking a relatively strident tone in defending the police department’s work from the incident in question. A press release titled “Rumor Control” asserts:

There is a video that is circulating showing CSPD officers arresting a 14-year old female at the Coral Square Mall on October 18, 2018. As with all social media posts, it shows only the end of the story, not the incident in its entirety which led up to the arrest. Officers were called to the mall by security about unruly teens, who had been harassing patrons and causing a disturbance.

The PD’s press release continues. And includes an allegation that one of those allegedly wayward youths–though not the girl who was punched and arrested–apparently shoved a 5-year-old child to the ground.

“In addition, mall security indicated one of the female teens (arrested) was seen striking another teen patron,” the statement notes. “Security asked that CSPD officers issue a trespass warning and bar the teens from the mall, which they did.”

The press release then explains the apparent reasoning behind the rib-punching incident caught on tape:

Prior to leaving the mall, officers received another call regarding a separate incident. At that time the teens who has been barred had returned to the mall. One of the male teens was taken into custody without incident. As a result, the female teen seen in the video, began cursing, attempting to incite the other teens.

In other words, the girl was initially being arrested for her language. The officers then claim that due to the girl’s “stature and aggressive behavior” she was taken down to the ground. And that’s where the video apparently picks up.

The girl’s mother also spoke with the local ABC affiliate. She disputed the necessity of using so much force.

“He went completely overboard. Her hands were pinned up. It was just too much.” Dennis said. “I was heartbroken and I couldn’t see her. They just seemed nonchalant. They didn’t care.”

The CSPD’s statement ends:

The Coral Springs Police Department believes in transparency. It is important for people to have all the facts before rushing to judgment of an officer’s actions when faced with calls for service involving violent suspects — regardless of their age or gender.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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