Four police officers in Southern California were placed on administrative leave Wednesday after a disturbing video showed them beating and kicking a teen boy inside a Dick's Sporting Goods Store last week, CBS Los Angeles reports.
Glendale police said the officers, some who were assigned to the Glendale Galleria shopping center, were responding to an alleged theft Saturday night, and while trying to detain the 17-year-old, a struggle ensued in the sports gear store and force was used by officers.
Footage provided to CBS Los Angeles showed three plainclothes officers hitting the boy, who was suspected of shoplifting. A fourth officer, who was wearing a uniform, entered the fight and is seen kicking the boy in the face. In an unedited version of the video, the teenager could be heard saying, "I can't breathe" while one of the officers could be heard saying, "Stop resisting."
Four officers involved in the arrest were put on administrative leave after the station showed Glendale police the video.
Melissa Navarette, a sister to the teen victim, told CBS LA that the clip was "really hard to watch."
"We got traumatized," she told the station. "We have, like, all of the video stuck in our head."
One of the witnesses, who wasn't identified, recorded the incident with his cellphone and spoke with CBS LA.
"The officer that wasn't even there to begin with, that ran up on this situation, and as soon as he arrived, he just decided I'm going to kick this kid in the face," he said.
The teen suffered injuries to both his eye and head, per CBS LA. While focused on the victim's recovery, family members hope the video leads to additional training and improved measures to prevent incidents like the one Saturday.
According to police, stolen merchandise was recovered. The teen was arrested for petty theft and resisting an officer by force.
The Glendale Police Department said it will continue its investigation of the incident.
"Glendale Police Officers are held to a high standard and we work hard to maintain the trust of our community," a police statement read, obtained by CBS LA. "We take these types of incidents very seriously. Appropriate actions will be taken following the investigation."