Florida Police Slam Black Teen To Ground In Chokehold For Giving Them ‘Dehumanizing Stare’ (VIDEO)

14-year-old Tremaine McMillian tells his side of the story… not surprisingly, it’s a bit different than the one the police reported. <a href="

14-year-old Tremaine McMillian tells his side of the story… not surprisingly, it’s a bit different than  the one the police reported.

I’m all for law and order; I think most of us are. We support and take pride in our police forces around the country and want to see them equipped and able to do their jobs with care and expediency. We look to them to keep the peace, keep us safe, go after the bad guys and, if things are slow on a sunny, Florida beach over a holiday weekend, go after a 14-year-old black kid with a puppy to chokehold him to the ground in front of his family and friends.

Wait, what? No, we don’t want that. But that’s what appears to have happened per a story hitting the media as a case in Miami, Florida goes from local incident to viral outrage. Stir in the racial component, the accusations of police brutality, the now-familiar video footage, and conflicting testimony from those involved, and we’ve got another conundrum of the police vs. citizen variety.

Here’s what we know so far: According to his testimony and that of others, including his mother, 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian was on Haulover beach in Miami with a group of friends on Memorial Day. With mom nearby, they were doing all the things teenage boys do at the beach – horsing around in the water, chasing each other, pushing and shoving – when police in an ATV saw the roughhousing and presumed an altercation was in progress. When they approached, however, it became immediately clear the boys were just playing, but as Tremaine stood there with his 6-week-old puppy, Marco, in one hand and a baby bottle to feed the dog in the other, police told the boys to stop playing (for some reason) and persisted in asking Tremaine a variety of questions, including where his mother was. She was just over… there. As Tremaine turned to lead police in her direction, per testimony from both the boy and his mother, the police chased him in the ATV, blocked his path, and when they grabbed at him and he pulled away, saying “Man, don’t touch me like I did something,” the melee was sparked. Two officers threw him to ground in a chokehold, his tiny puppy was caught under his body, as bystanders, including his mother, were stunned.

From WSVN 7 News Miami:

His mother, Maurissa Holmes, said, “I ran over there and said, ‘That’s my son, that’s my son. Can you get off of him? He can’t breathe.’ And they said, ‘Wait a minute. You all stand back, stand back. He was coming to show the officers where I was at, and for them to just jump off the ATV and grab him and throw him to the ground like that and put pressure on his neck and make him urinate on himself, you don’t do that.”

“I was at the beach playing with my friends,” said McMillian. “That’s when the police had told us to stop, so I asked, why, and he told me, because he said so, and I asked why again. That’s when he told me, ‘Show me where your mom’s at.'”

McMillian said he was cradling his puppy Marco when it all went down. He said he was obeying officers and only wanted to lead them to his mom. His mother said, “As he was walking along the beach, the catwalk where the picnic area is, the police officers were on their ATVs, and my son was walking, and they jumped off their ATVs, grabbed him and slammed him to the ground.”

Of course, the police have a much different version of events to support their seeming over-reaction to a 14-year-old with a puppy walking towards his mom. According to the report filed, officers claim Tremaine “got combative and clenched his fists”; he counters that he couldn’t possibly have done that as he was holding his puppy in one hand, the bottle in the other.

Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta justified the use of force, saying McMillan was exhibiting threatening “body language,” which includes “dehumanizing stares” and “clenching his fists.”

“Of course we have to neutralize the threat in front of us,” said Zabaleta.  “And when you have somebody that is being resistant, somebody that is pulling away from you, somebody that’s clenching their fist, somebody that’s flaring their arms, that’s the immediate threat.” [Source]

Yes, neutralize the “threat” of an average-sized 14-year-old carrying a puppy and a baby bottle.

14-year-old Tremaine McMillian, a "threat" to be "neutralized" -  @WSNV

14-year-old Tremaine McMillian, a “threat” to be “neutralized” – Screenshot.

Police extrapolated on the “threat” further in the verbiage of their report:

Police wrote, “He attempted to pull his arm away, stating, ‘Man, don’t touch me like I did something.'”

Detective Alvaro Zabaleta explained, “All of that body language alone is already letting the officers know that this is a person that is now obviously getting agitated and can become violent.” [Source]

Hmmm. I get that police have to ascertain threat level and the potential of violence and danger every day of their lives. I get that anyone, anywhere, is obligated – for their own safety – to follow police instructions without question, particularly young black men in our purportedly ‘post racial’ society. But at some point logic has to come into play, and when a teenager in a bathing suit (hard to hide weapons in there), hanging out on the beach with his puppy, his buddies, and his mom nearby, is categorized as a potentially “violent” threat simply for getting aggravated at the persistent (unjustified?) police questioning (badgering?), enough to justify slamming him to the ground, applying a chokehold and terrifying him enough to wet his pants, I have to seriously question the judgement of the officers involved.

But as a fun holiday afternoon at the beach metastasized into a violent police action, a boy with a puppy was not only manhandled  and embarrassed in a public setting, but he has now been charged with resisting arrest, a felony (a felony!), and disorderly conduct. When Tremaine’s public defender entered a plea of not guilty and asked that the court “reconsider” the charges, the judge rejected that request; a trial date has been set for July 16.

And while Tremaine is understandably upset and nervous about the impending legal process, his immediate concern is with his puppy, whose leg was injured in the melee. But the police?

“At this point we are not concerned with a puppy,” said [Detective] Zabaleta. [Source]

Yeah, we didn’t think so.

Here’s the video: