Sacramento police use ‘spit mask’ on 12-year-old black boy shouting “I can’t breathe!” during arrest


  • On Wednesday, Sacramento police defended their use of a clear mesh “spit mask” on the arrest of a 12-year-old black boy while onlookers videotaped the encounter.
  • Police Department Chief Daniel Hahn said that the cops “appropriately used a spit mask to protect themselves and defuse the situation,” adding that he is grateful “nobody was injured during this encounter.”
  • Authorities later released a body camera footage that shows the minor struggling as the officers try to calm him and shouting that he can’t breathe so the cops pull the mask over his head.

Sacramento Police Department Chief Daniel Hahn defended officers on Wednesday who placed a “spit mask” over 12-year-old black boy’s head during an arrest. An officer body camera footage was released the same day showing the boy shouting “I can’t breathe!”  that went viral on social media.

The Police Department released videos of the arrest after a lawyer representing the minor and his family called attention to the arrest. Protesters called it as another case of police brutality, citing the case of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old black American who was fatally shot last year by Sacramento officers.

“Our officers involved in this incident appropriately used a spit mask to protect themselves and defuse the situation,” Chief Hahn said. “I am grateful that our officers were willing to proactively intervene when they observed suspicious activity, and that nobody was injured during this encounter.”

The boy shouted repeatedly, “I can’t breathe!” after a police officer put the “spit mask” over his head. In July 2014, black American Eric Garner died in Staten Island after an NYPD officer put him in a chokehold while arresting him. Garner, who had asthma, repeatedly said “I can’t breathe,” which has become a rallying cry against police brutality.

The 12-year-old boy’s arrest happened on April 28, according to a statement released by the department. It started when two officers noticed the minor running from a security guard.

Spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler previously told The Sacramento Bee that the boy was later released to his mother with a citation for battery against a police officer and resisting officers.

“Our police should know how to handle a tiny 12-year-old boy,” Tanya Faison, Sacramento Black Lives Matter founder, told the Bee.

The arrest occurred about a month after Sacramento activists commemorated the fatal shooting of Clark. The officers involved in the arrest will not be charged because they feared for their safety, prompting days of protests.


Source: USA Today

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