A 12-year-old rapper was grabbed by police at a Georgia shopping mall for allegedly selling CDs in a controversial arrest that was captured in viral video and has sparked an internal law enforcement probe.
Corey Jackson — the young performer known as “Corey J” — was with his family at the Cumberland Mall in Cumberland, Georgia, on Oct. 6 when a Cobb County police officer grabbed his arm.
The confrontation was taped by Corey’s aunt, according to police and family friend Toya Brown, a recording studio manager in Atlanta where Jackson's recorded before.
“You’re 12?” a police officer is heard telling Corey, according to a tape obtained by NBC affiliate WXIA. “You’re about to go to jail."
The aunt insisted the officer speak to Corey's dad.
“I have his father on the phone and you won’t even speak to him,” she told the officer.
The camera is jostled when it appeared the officer and youngster tussled. But Cobb County police spokeswoman Sarah O'Hara said Wednesday the camera shook because the boy's aunt "got physical" with the officer.
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"She was still holding on to the camera as she's assaulting my officer," O'Hara said.
The youngster, who a police said Wednesday would not cooperate with the officer at the time, was charged with felony obstruction, misdemeanor obstruction and criminal trespassing from the confrontation. He was released to the custody of his dad.
The aunt was charged with felony obstruction, giving false ID, criminal trespassing and misdemeanor obstruction.
Corey's family insisted the boy did nothing wrong.
“They don’t know why he was targeted, he’s a very good kid,” Brown told NBC News on Wednesday. “He doesn’t get into any trouble. He’s very well spoken and polite. Ask anyone who has met him and they would tell you that.”
Corey's arrest sparked renewed conversation about police being called on African Americans for seemingly harmless actions.
Brown said the family is hiring a lawyer.
“I mean he’s 12, he’s not harming anyone," she added. "He shouldn’t have been treated like that.”
Corey J, who came to fame with an appearance last year on Ellen DeGeneres’ TV show, had been warned twice in the past month not to sell CDs at the mall.
Brown said the 12-year-old wasn’t selling CDs at the mall that day he was grabbed by police, but was there just to meet up with some other artists.
The uniformed officer was working at the shopping center on a private contract between the county and mall operators, police said. He was called over to Corey at the request of a mall security guard, O'Hara said.
Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register said he’s aware of complaints and promised an exhaustive internal affairs probe.
"A more thorough investigation will ultimately show the facts that we all need to make a final determination if that (arrest) was justified or not," Register told reporters on Tuesday.
The officer wore a working body camera during the confrontation, according to Register, though the footage was not immediately released.
At first look, Register said he couldn't find fault with his officer.
“During that interaction, the juvenile continued to be verbally resistant to give any information,” Register said. “A lot of people said he (the officer) was handling (the child). The officer, all he was doing was holding the young man by the arm.”