In February 2015, a New York City police lieutenant grabbed a 6th grade elementary school student of color — 11 years old — around the neck and threw her to the pavement on a Bronx street corner, on suspicion — erroneously — that she was in possession of someone else’s smartphone.
According to reports, the incident occurred when some school boys were throwing snowballs at a passing car. The driver got out and when he put one of the boys in a headlock his smartphone fell out of his pocket and another boy picked it up. The 11-year-old black female and a fellow classmate happened to be running by when the man noticed them and suspected her of being part of the group. A white police lieutenant then is seen grabbing her by the arm and pulling her toward him. The situation escalates with the officer grabbing her around the neck and throwing her to the ground, where he rolls her over and rear cuffs her. After the arrest it was determined that she did not have the phone and she was subsequently released to her parents.
Because of the arrest being referred to the Family Court’s probation department, which supervises an adjustment process that requires the child to attend programs based on an assumption of guilt,the girl’s parents declined the adjustment process. Now nearly 3 motnhs later the 11-year-old’s parents served formal notice on the City that they were going to pursue claims of police assault and battery and the use of excessive force, among others.