A disturbing video that surfaced this week shows a California police officer throwing punches at a minor who was reportedly suspected of smoking marijuana.

In the 30-seconds of footage, an officer with the Rancho Cordova Police Department can be seen kneeling over the suspect on the ground while apparently trying to make an arrest. Mere seconds into the clip, the officer is shown violently pressing the suspect’s head against the ground. Moments later, after the suspect is flipped on his back, the officer began punching the suspect in the chest area before aggressively yanking the suspect’s right arm in what appears to be an attempt to put the young man in handcuffs. Off camera, individuals can be heard yelling “stop” at the officer.

A Response From The Department

The incident took place on Monday in Rancho Cordova, California, a city of about 65,000 people located near the state capital of Sacramento. In a statement on Tuesday, the Rancho Cordova PD said that it is investigating the matter, and that the “investigation is in its infancy and the facts as we understand them now are subject to change as we conduct a more thorough and complete examination of the circumstances surrounding this incident.”

The department said that the officer “was in the area due to complaints from citizens about hand-to-hand sales of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs to minors.” The suspect, according to the department’s statement, told the responding deputy that he was 18, but was later identified as a 14-year-old juvenile.

“It’s important to put video footage into context, especially in relation to a use of force incident. In this case, the deputy saw what he believed to be a hand-to-hand exchange between an adult and juvenile,” the department’s statement said. “As the deputy turned around, he lost sight of the adult, who left the area. When the deputy approached the juvenile, the juvenile was uncooperative and refused to give the deputy basic identifying information.”

“Having reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was occurring, the deputy attempted to detain the juvenile so he could conduct further investigation,” the statement continued. “The juvenile became physically resistive at that time, causing the deputy to lose control of his handcuffs, which landed several feet away. The deputy attempted to maintain control of the juvenile without his handcuffs and while alone waiting for his partners to arrive and assist him.”

The responding deputy eventually recovered “tobacco products” from the juvenile, who was subsequently cited and released to his guardians.

The department said it has “proactively started an investigation into the use of force by our deputy in order to gain a complete and thorough understanding of the events that took place during this incident.”

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