What to Know
- A 16-year-old girl's arrest was captured on camera and is prompting police to review the officers' role in the violent encounter.
- Stoughton police say they were called after staffers at Evelyn House were threatened with violence.
- Officers used a stun gun on the unnamed teenager during her arrest.
A teenage girl's violent arrest outside a Stoughton, Massachusetts homeless shelter for families last week was captured on camera, prompting police to review officers' role in the chaotic encounter.
"It was ugly," said witness Patricia Coutts.
The viral video shows the unnamed 16-year-old girl as she is taken into custody outside of the home. It does not appear as if she's following commands in the cellphone video captured by a different witness.
"That's when I saw them slam her face in the ground," said Coutts. "Put his knee in her, and then they had the cuffs on her, but they kept tasing her, and that's what upset me."
Bob Sinclair lives next door to the shelter and watched the scene play out.
"She wasn't cooperating," said Sinclair. "They had their stun guns out, and they told her to stop, she didn't stop, they stunned her."
Police were initially called to the home after staffers were threatened with violence.
The video has gone viral on social media.
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Police say a supervisor and a patrolman were punched, slapped and scratched during the encounter. The supervisor was taken to the hospital for medical attention.
"If a police officer tells you to stop, you stop," said Sinclair. "If you don't, there's going to be a problem."
Stoughton police said in a statement that they respond frequently to Evelyn House and had responded to three separate incidents within 24 hours of the video. The department added that a staff member reported being threatened with violence and was threatened further after the suspect learned of the 911 call.
"When it comes to a violent altercation, we can not [sic] just call a time out to ask for identification to determine the offending parties [sic] age. As it relates to use of force, it is dictated by the offending party regardless of age or gender. Once you are told you are under arrest you can not resist or become assaultive," Stoughton Police Lt. John Bonney wrote in the statement.
"Was she wrong? A little bit on her side. Were the police wrong? A little bit on their side," said Coutts. "I can see their need to protect themselves, but she was a 16-year-old girl. I just thought it was so much."
Police say the situation is under review.