Doorbell video captures police officer punching and throwing teen with autism to the ground

A Ring doorbell captured footage of a police officer in Vacaville, California, throwing a 17-year-old to the ground and punching him in the face on Wednesday, according to the teen's father. The teen's father posted the now viral video of the incident on Facebook, saying that his son, Preston, has autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and that "he looks and acts younger than he is." 

The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon, Adam Wolf wrote on Facebook, when Preston was "aggressively approached" by a Vacaville police officer. 

The video shows Preston standing with his scooter on a sidewalk in a suburban neighborhood when a police officer exits his vehicle and approaches him while aggressively yelling at him to sit down. Preston complies and sits down with his legs crossed. The officer then appears to yell at the teenager to put his legs out, and when he does not immediately do so, the officer picks up his scooter and throws several feet away. 

To All my Friends and Family, I need your help. Some of you know and some of you don't, but my 17 year year old son,...

Posted by Adam Wolf on Thursday, April 22, 2021

It appears as though the officer attempts to grab the boy, at which point Preston flinches and leans back, seemingly scared. A few moments later, Preston attempts to run away, and the officer grabs him by the arm and slams him onto the street. 

A second video of the incident shows the officer straddling the teen who was on his back on the road. The officer repeatedly yells at him to put his hands behind his back as he remains in the same position, and is seen punching him in the face. 

"You punched me in the f***ing head," Preston is heard yelling at the officer. 

The officer then replies, "You're gonna get hurt. Don't make me hurt you more. Don't make me hurt you more." 

Two additional officers then arrive at the scene. 

Wolf allegedly told Fox affiliate KTXL that another teenage boy had tried to pick a fight with Preston nearby prior to the incident with police, and that his son had picked up a piece of metal or a metal pole off the ground to defend himself. An adult intervened and then Preston left to go play with one of the neighbors, Wolf told KTXL. 

Vacaville Police Department Acting Chief Ian Schmutzler said in a statement to CBS News that he appreciates the "justified concern" about the incident and that the the department is fully investigating what occurred. 

Schmutzler also disputed reports that the officer in the video knew that Preston has autism.  

"We are scouring the dispatch recordings, body-worn camera video, Ring camera video and any other visual or audio evidence we can find," Schmutzler said. 

Police went to Preston's home on Thursday and met with family members to "foster the dialogue needed to understand what happened from all points of view," Schmutzler said. "Any time there is a use of force, it is difficult to watch. Uses of force are taken seriously by the department and all use of force incidents are reviewed by the supervisor, the watch commander, and a use of force review committee." 

"I want to assure you that I do NOT take this circumstance lightly and that I am dedicated to doing all I can to ensure accountability and transparency as we examine ALL aspects of this incident," Schmutzler said. 

CBS News has reached out to Wolf for comment.

Wolf wrote on Facebook that his son was "fearful, as would any child with Autism," and that he had moved away from the officer because he was "confused and afraid." 

"Once on the ground, the officer climbed on top of Preston and PUNCHED him in the face. All of this was witnessed by multiple neighbors and caught on video," Wolf wrote. "In the video you can hear Preston telling the officer to 'call his parents.'" 

"I don't believe that Preston will ever trust a police officer again," he continued. "I am pro police, but I am not pro ABUSE! This individual and department must be held accountable for their actions. NO child, disability or not, deserves to be treated like this."

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