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Video shows Sacramento police putting "spit mask" on detained 12-year-old

Video shows police putting "spit mask" on boy

Sacramento — A cellphone video showing Sacramento police detaining a 12-year-old boy and putting a "spit mask" over his head is going viral. The boy's mother is demanding an apology over how her son was treated, CBS Sacramento reports.

"It shouldn't have got this far, and I want justice. I want justice for African-American girls and boys," the boy's mother, LaToya Downs, said.

Police say officers on the scene followed standard policy in detaining the boy, who is facing a charge of spitting at officers.

The cellphone video first captures the 12-year-old boy being detained and calling for "mom." Moments later, as he's walked toward a squad car, the video appears to show an officer wiping her face. The officers then put the 12-year-old on his stomach, handcuffed, while another officer takes out a spit mask and places it over the boy's head.

"It's just every parent's nightmare," Downs said.

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CBS Sacramento

The spit mask, which is made of mesh netting material, has become a focus for the boy's family. Downs said officers' treatment of her son was degrading. 

"He didn't know why it was on him," Downs said. "It was degrading at that point and he was scared. He didn't know what to expect."

Sacramento Police Sergeant Vance Chandler said the police department is reviewing how officers handled the arrest.

"So what we do know is that this subject spit on the face of our officer," Chandler said.

He said using a spit mask is standard operating policy.

"What about the fact that he was 12 years old?" CBS Sacramento asked. "Does the age play a factor in whether or not that action is taken by an officer?" 

"Well, all that plays a factor," Chandler said. "All the circumstances that they faced during this incident, all those play a factor."

The incident comes as the Sacramento Police overhaul force-related policies within the department, following last year's police killing of 22-year-old Stephon Clark in the city. 

Attorney Mark T. Harris, who works for the Ben Crump Law firm handling the Clark case, is representing the 12-year-old's family.

"I've never heard a situation where a 12-year-old child had a bag placed over his head," Harris said. "I don't care what you call it -- a spit propulsion repulsing device. They can call it whatever they want. A bag is a bag is a bag."