Family accuses Indiana officers who restrained teen of going too far: ‘I was trying to break free because I couldn’t breathe’
Evgen_Prozhyrko/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A teen and his family accused Indiana police of excessive force for how they restrained the boy during an altercation at a festival where police accused him of slapping away an officer’s arm.
“He didn’t try to swipe away their arm,” the boy’s mother, Elizabeth Montejano, told ABC Chicago station WLS-TV. “When the officer grabbed him right here from his shirt, Dominic grabbed him. He’s just like, ‘What are you doing.’”
In Facebook video posted Thursday by his aunt, Dominic Garibay, 15, can be seen being held on the ground by multiple officers. Montejano can be heard in the background screaming “that’s my son” at officers.
ABC News has been unable to reach Montejano.
Officers had been breaking up a fight between two teenage girls Wednesday when Garibay “attempted to get through the area being blocked off by officers,” according to a statement the Hammond Police Department posted on its Facebook page.
“One officer, told the young man three times to step back away from the area. In an attempt to block access to the fight, the officer extended his arm to keep back the young man attempting to get through the line,” according to the statement. “The young man slapped away the arm of the officer protecting the scene.”
That’s when officers attempted to arrest him for disorderly conduct, police said, adding that he subsequently “began to yell and resist arrest” before Garibay, who had been handcuffed by then, was “taken to the ground” a second time.
He also yelled profanities throughout the encounter, police said.
But Garibay and his family said police went too far, accusing the officers of choking him to the point where he thought he “was going to die,” the teen told WLS.
“Once he started choking me, I was trying to break free because I couldn’t breathe,” he added. “I was just trying to get air.”
An investigation is underway, police said, which will include an examination of body camera footage.
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