An Arizona police officer was caught on camera body-slamming an autistic teenager to the ground.
Officer David Grossman with the Buckeye Police Department came upon Connor Leibel while the 14-year-old was alone in a park. Grossman’s body camera shows most of their interaction.
In the video, Grossman asks Leibel what’s going on as he is sitting down flicking a small piece of string in front of his face. Leibel responds that he is “stimming,” a common practice used by autistic individuals to relieve stress.
Grossman–an alleged drug recognition expert–was unfamiliar with the technique, however, and assumed the 14-year-old was consuming some sort of illicit drug via inhalation. Grossman, still perplexed, moves toward the boy and questions him again. All the while, Leibel backs away, saying “It’s a string.”
The Buckeye cop then goes full Keystone and aggressively approaches the boy. Leibel begins to back up again. Grossman then demands: “Stop walking away from me.”
Leibel complies. Then Gross asks for identification and reaches out to grab the teenager’s arm. As Leibel says “No,” Officer Grossman wraps up his wrist and begins to pin the child’s arms against his back.
The child then appears to panic and screams as he is body-slammed to the ground by Grossman.
The 14-year-old suffered multiple cuts, scrapes and bruises as a result.
But the Buckeye Police Department is standing by their officer. A statement released after Grossman was cleared of any wrongdoing states, “The internal investigation found there was no use of force.”
Leibel’s family isn’t buying that, though, and wants the officer and department to make amends. They released a statement of their own, which reads:
The family is anguished about what happened to Connor. It’s astonishing that even after an internal investigation, the Buckeye Police Department claims it did absolutely nothing wrong. The family is asking for three things to help seek justice for Connor: first, a personal apology from the officer; second, that the officer perform community service with the autistic community; and third, that Buckeye institute a mandatory training program to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again.
[image via screengrab]