SACRAMENTO, California — The cell phone video is going viral: It shows a 12-year-old boy being detained by Sacramento police and an officer putting a “spit mask” over the boy’s head.
The mother of that boy is demanding an apology from the Sacramento Police Department for how they handled her son.
“It shouldn’t have happened, it shouldn’t have got this far, and I want justice, I want justice for African-American girls and boys,” the 12-year-old boy’s mother LaToya Downs said.
Police say the officers on scene followed standard policy in detaining the boy, who is facing a charge of spitting at officers.
The cell phone video first captures the 12-year-old boy detained by Sacramento police and calling for “mom.” Moments later, as the 12-year-old is walked toward a squad car, the video appears to show an officer wiping his 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.
It’s that spit mask that has become a focus of the 12-year-old’s family. Downs says officer’s treatment of her son was degrading.
“He was angry, he didn’t know why it was on him, it was degrading at that point and he was scared, he didn’t know what to expect,” Downs said.
Sacramento Police Sergeant Vance Chandler says 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, made of mesh netting material, is standard operating policy.
“What about the fact that he was 12-years-old? Does the age play a factor in whether or not that action is taken by an officer?” KOVR asked.
“Well all that plays a factor, all the circumstances that they faced during this incident, all those play a factor,” Chandler said.
The incident comes as the Sacramento Police overhaul force-related policies within the department, following the Stephon Clark shooting.
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.”
The family is asking the police to apologize. So far, the police are saying their officers were simply following policy.
**The below video contains explicit language that some may find offensive