Lawsuit Filed After ‘Disturbing’ Video Shows Cop Punching Black Teen Who Committed No Crime

A California teen police now say had no gang affiliations and no criminal record is filing an excessive force lawsuit against the Fresno Police Department after he was repeatedly punched by one of the officers looking to bust some gang members. The January incident, which was caught on video, initially resulted in charges for resisting arrest; due to the video, prosecutors dropped those charges and Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer admits that the footage was “disturbing” and may lead to discipline.

The video shows that the teen, identified as 17-year-old London Wallace, was grabbed and punched repeatedly. According to ABC 30, police were executing a gang enforcement operation on the date of the incident. Officer Christopher Martinez reportedly claimed that he thought Wallace was going to try and escape; he said he punched Wallace three times in the face.

But the police department has now opened an internal affairs investigation, and Chief Dyer called the video “disturbing to see” (he reportedly saw it for the first time on Tuesday).

Wallace’s attorney Nolan Kane said the video shows that Martinez’s story about what happened does not hold up.

“It’s a very disappointing situation. You can see London Wallace crying. You can see him bleeding,” he told ABC30. “He’s a high school kid. He likes playing basketball. He’s a nice, calm, timid person […] And you can kind of see that in the video. He’s not used to police contact.”

Kane said that this is not a He Said, He Said case, and a jury will have an opportunity to see the body cam footage, which was recorded from multiple angles.

[Image via KABC screengrab]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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