A video of an off-duty police officer in Lansing, Illinois, pinning a black teen to the ground on his front lawn has sparked outrage and concern.
The video shows the officer crouching over a 15-year-old boy named Jordan, pinning him with one knee and a hand variously on his neck and upper chest. The video was posted online Monday by Ann Falls, who said in a Facebook post that she is a cousin of the teen seen in the video. The incident took place Saturday.
“Let me go,” the teen is heard telling the officer.
“No, you come on my property I’m going to f***ing kill you,” the officer responds.
The boy's friend, a white male teen, is heard in the background telling the officer, “Let him go dude.”
In the video, the off-duty officer and the teen struggle, with the teen swiping at the officer’s arm trying to remove his hold. “Who is this guy coming into my yard?’” the officer asks the teen while still kneeling on top off him.
He tells the teen to have his friend come sit in the yard and when the teen responds that he has nothing to do with it the officer says, “I don’t give a f*** who is, you understand that?”
When the boy asks the officer why the officer had him on the ground, the officer says, “Because your friend is being a f***ing idiot.” As the boy tries to get up the officer shoves him back on the ground and puts his hands at his neck again. “You’re trespassing in my f***ing yard you understand that?” the officer says.
According to the Lansing Police Department, there was a 911 call about a fight in the area that involved 30 juveniles. When police arrived, the fight had already ended.
According to the police statement, obtained on Wednesday, the off-duty officer, who has not been named by the department, found a backpack with a BB gun inside in his backyard. The officer said he encountered a 15-year-old white teen who said he had been in a fight with other teens in the neighborhood when a 15-year-old black teen approached.
According to the report, the teens refused to stay until other police officers arrived, which led the off-duty officer to begin “physically detaining one of the juveniles” the statement said. Both teens stayed until they were turned over to arriving officers and then taken home to their parents.
NBC News does not know what happened before the video was recorded. According to Jordan, however, he and his friend had just left a basketball game when they were jumped by three boys. The two ran away from the fight and when Jordan was on his way home he heard his friend call for help. Jordan found his friend hiding in bushes in the off-duty officer’s yard and when he went to go get help, that’s when Jordan says he was grabbed by the officer.
“I’m innocent. I didn’t do nothing to him, I didn’t assault him or do nothing to cause him any harm or anybody around him,” Jordan told NBC News. “He could’ve at least told me not to go anywhere, like, I would’ve stayed if he had told me not to go anywhere. He could’ve just talked to me he didn't have to force me on the ground.”
Jordan, who has asthma, said he was so confused and shaken by the incident that he used his inhaler at least twice after he got home.
Jordan's aunt, LaShawnya Brunson, said she was appalled by the demeanor of the officer. "In his language it was, ‘I should kill you’ — he said some things a police officer shouldn't have said.”
Brunson added, "That doesn’t make any sense for an officer to do that with what’s going on now in the country in the United States with the young black guys. That doesn’t make any sense.”
“The Lansing Police Department is aware of the video that has been subsequently posted on social media regarding the incident, and had initiated an investigation into the matter prior to its public posting,” the department said in a statement.
Andrew M. Stroth, a civil rights attorney representing Jordan and his family said the family is conducting their own independent investigation.
“We are demanding a meeting with the mayor, the chief of police and evaluating whether we will file a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Lansing and the police officer involved,” Stroth told NBC News.
Responses to the Facebook post of the video and on Twitter were filled with anger toward the officer and demands for his firing. Others chimed in to say the teen should have stayed off the officer's property.
Brunson said there needs to be criminal justice reform as well as open communication between law enforcement and the community.
“Apology needs to be done, but then some type of conviction. Because if it was somebody else or someone of another nationality I believe he’d already be locked up,” Brunson said. "Just switch it, the person would already be locked up. Right now there’s nothing.”
The department says it is still investigating the incident and no charges have been filed.