GRAPHIC: Police officers beat teen shoplifting suspect at Calif. mall

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 11:20 AM EDT
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GLENDALE, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) – Video from a California mall shows a group of police officers beating a 17-year-old suspected shoplifter.

Plainclothes officers punch the teen in the face and a uniformed officer kicks the teen in the head as he lies on the floor of the Dick’s Sporting Goods store inside the Glendale Galleria.

“It was really hard to watch,” said Melissa Navarette, the teen’s sister. “We got traumatized. We still have all of the video stuck in our head.”

A man who was shopping at the store Saturday evening grabbed his cellphone and recorded the incident.

“The officer that wasn’t even there to begin with, that ran up on the situation, as soon as he arrived he just decided, ‘I’m going to kick this kid in the face,’” the witness said.

A police spokesman said officers received a call about petty theft in another part of the mall minutes before the confrontation.

“Officers responded and located a suspect matching the description, and eventually contacted that suspect inside the Dick’s Sporting Goods,” said Sgt. Christian Hauptmann of the Glendale Police Department.

Police said they recovered stolen merchandise from the teenager and arrested him on suspicion of petty theft and resisting an officer by force.

Civil rights attorney Connie Rice watched the video and said there’s no doubt the officers’ behavior goes against the training they receive when it comes to apprehending a suspect.

“Oh, this is worse than a rough arrest. I’ve seen better tactics and discipline in a barroom brawl,” Rice said.

“Apparently he doesn’t have a weapon, so he’s not posing any kind of imminent threat of lethal force or bodily injury to anybody around him.”

The teen suffered injuries to his eye and head.

Family members hope the video reinforces the need for additional training and improved measures to prevent something like this from happening again.

In the meantime, they’re focused on the teen’s recovery.

The officers involved are on administrative leave.

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