An incident involving a 13-year-old boy and MTPD officers on February 6 has prompted a conversation on social media regarding the policing of children, and also resulted in a possible investigation by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
"The first thing I noticed when we first walked up is that this kid was in tears and that he was handcuffed," Donroy Ferdinand, who recorded the incident at the Shaw-Howard Metro Station between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. local time, told local outlet WUSA9 in an interview.
Ferdinand said that he and another individual, both freshman students at Howard University, intervened because they believed the officers were harassing the teen.
What the purpose of manhandling a KID like this was actually serving? What issue did he cause could justify this? (nothing justifies cops beating up on kids) and this is the response I received— 🄳🄾🄽🅁🄾🅈 🧙🏾♂️🦎 (@dferdjr) February 7, 2020
“I asked him, are you OK?" Ferdinand told the outlet. "And he couldn’t even come to words to answer me, which I thought again was tragic, and all he did was shake his head no, tears in his eyes.”
“He committed horseplaying,” said one of the MTPD officers in the clip. He later clarified that the child was being taken in for disorderly conduct - an actual offense.
Police confirmed to WUSA9 that the boy was arrested and that he was taken to Children’s National Hospital after complaining about back and neck pain.
An incident report obtained by the outlet alleged that officers first detained the 13-year-old and another boy for their horseplaying and had planned on releasing the two minors until the teen in question refused to provide his the name or phone number of his parent or guardian. According to the report, the situation escalated, and officers took the 13-year-old to the ground after the child pushed a cop who was approaching him.
Police were eventually able to inform the teen’s parents about his arrest. A spokesperson from the MTPD Office of Professional Responsibility and Integrity explained to WUSA9 that they have contacted Ferdinand to receive additional information on the incident and will pursue an investigation if a Citizen’s Complaint is filed by a witness or family member of the 13-year-old youth.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), which is a separate law enforcement agency than the MTPD, recently put into effect a new policy which prohibits officers from handcuffing suspects under the age of 12 and limits their ability to handcuff those aged between 13 and 17 “based on the severity of the offense and circumstances of the interaction.”
"Whenever there is interaction between the police and juveniles, it garners a lot of attention. And if that attention is negative, it chips away at the trust we're trying to build with the community,” MPD Chief Peter Newsham said in an address to the DC Council on January 28, as reported by NPR.
Ferdinand told WUSA9 that he hopes the MTPD can adopt a similar de-escalation policy to that of the MPD.