The disturbing video, caught by a neighbor’s Ring system, showed the youth being thrown to the ground and struck while being taken into custody.
Adam Wolf, father of the 17-year-old, posted a grievance to social media. In it he explained that his son has Autism and ADHD.
“He looks and acts younger than he is. Everyone he meets, thinks he is younger than he is,” Wolf wrote.
According to Wolf, an officer “aggressively” approached his son around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, screamed at him to sit, which he did, threw his scooter and got in his face.
“My son became fearful, as would any child with Autism,” Wolf explained. He advised that the officer attempted to touch the teen, who dodged out of fear.
“At that point the officer felt it was a good idea to THROW (the young man) to the ground,” Wolf penned. “Once on the ground, the officer climbed on top of (the youth) and PUNCHED him in the face.”
In a press statement released late Thursday, Vacaville police shared the official version of the incident.
At 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, officers responded to the area for reports of a stabbing or assault with a pipe, said Sgt. Katie Cardona.
The victim, a 16-year-old boy suffering from minor unspecified injuries, was found first. Medical attention was declined, Cardona said.
The 17-year-old boy, who matched the description officers were given, was located next.
He was ordered to sit, which he did, the sergeant said, but resisted when the officer attempted to handcuff him.
That’s when the officer brought him to the ground, Cardona said.
The 17-year-old was arrested and detained for about an hour. He was subsequently cited on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest, then released into the custody of his stepmother.
The victim’s family reportedly chose not to press charges.
Details regarding the alleged attack were not clear, though the young men appear to know each other and had some type of confrontation in passing.
The arresting officer was unaware that the teen had special needs at the time of their interaction, Cardona said.
The investigation continues as officers view body-worn camera footage and interview neighbors and family.
“We understand the video posted on social media can appear very disturbing,” said Acting Police Chief Ian Schmutzler in the statement. “When we receive a 911 call involving an assault with a deadly weapon and potential stabbing, we respond immediately to ensure we keep those in the vicinity safe.”
In a followup visit to the family on Thursday police invited them to participate in The Puzzle Project, which offers a database of sorts that helps officers when responding to calls where the person in turmoil has special needs. Resources for parents of children with special needs were also given.
In his post, Adam Wolf emphasized worry for his son.
“I don’t believe that (the teen) will ever trust a police officer again. I am pro police, but I am not pro ABUSE!,” he wrote on social media. “This individual and department must be held accountable for their actions. NO child, disability or not, deserves to be treated like this.”