WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — An intense interaction between a Winston-Salem officer and a teenager is raising questions, and it was all caught on camera on Nov. 8.
Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson held a news conference on Sunday and addressed the incident.
The officers were called to a possible breaking and entering at a vacant house on Hartford Street. Police say they stopped to question five teens walking nearby on the road around 6:30 p.m.
The interaction quickly intensified when officers were asking the individual’s names. Police say one teen resisted while another assaulted an officer.
Teens can be heard screaming out for help.
Peggie Dull noticed the response, came out of her house and recorded a 10-minute video.
“The officers were asking for the children’s names…and the kids were arguing back with them and saying why do you need to know our names,” Dull said. “It seemed like the more resistant the kids were, the more upset or heightened the one particular officer became.”
FOX8 learned Officer Zacharie Jones was investigating the situation. He has been on the force for five years with no complaints of misconduct or excessive force and is still working.
He has not been placed on administrative leave.
“You don’t argue with the officer on the side of the road. Everybody wants to be safe. Officers have been trained to maintain safety, and so that’s never a winner,” Thompson said.
All five teens involved were detained, interviewed and later released to their parents.
So far, the family of the teen involved has not filed an official complaint or viewed the body-worn video from that night.
Thompson said she is willing to work with them to file a formal complaint.
But they have hired an attorney. FOX8 reached out to them for a comment and has not heard back at this time.
Thompson is asking the community for patience while a thorough investigation is being completed.
“I ask that you trust me. I give you my word that we will conduct a thorough, complete investigation using facts and evidence and guided by our laws,” she said.
Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines released the following statement on Sunday:
“I and many other citizens of Winston-Salem share the concerns and questions raised by the community with regard to the incident involving a juvenile being taken into custody by an officer on Nov. 8 during his investigation into a house break-in on Hartford Street. A video of a portion of the incident was recorded by a neighbor and circulated in public, raising questions about the propriety of the arresting officer’s actions.
When first contacted about this incident, the Winston-Salem Police Department began an internal investigation and that investigation is ongoing. A media statement about the incident was released to the media on Nov. 9.
Since then, the Police Department has contacted members of the juvenile’s family on more than one occasion to explain the process that they can follow to submit a formal complaint under the Citizen Police Review Board process. In addition, the family was offered the opportunity to view the body camera footage as allowed by law.
However, access to this same information by others is constrained by state law. Under state law, the police reports and body camera footage are not a public record; however, they can be released pursuant to a court order, which the city will consider pursuing at the appropriate time.
Under the state Personnel Privacy Act, most employee personnel information is likewise confidential, as is juvenile case information. We must respect these laws as all of the facts surrounding this event are established and a determination is made as to whether Winston-Salem Police Department policies were followed – policies which address de-escalation, arrests, the use of force and bias in policing.
I commit to our citizens that the investigation into this incident, as with similar investigations in the past, will be conducted in a prompt, fair and thorough manner and that the Winston-Salem Police Department will address any conduct of any officer which is not in line with the law, the Police Department’s policies and the department’s training. The department will be as transparent as the law allows.
I ask for your patience and an open mind until that investigation is completed.”
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