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Family of teen beaten by Madison police threatens legal action


A day after an investigation found Madison Police officers’ actions were “objectively reasonable” and legal, attorneys for the family of a 17-year-old Black boy who was punched in the head while in a mental health crisis have indicated they may take the City to court.

“A full and careful review of the security camera video from the interior of the child’s home shows a frail young boy who the police knew had a history of mental health issues, walking through his home following police direction,” attorney Jessica Giesen wrote in a press release. “The video then shows the boy unexpectedly being overpowered, immobilized and beaten in the head as he is held down by multiple officers.

“We vehemently disagree with the Madison Police Department that beating this young boy was ‘objectively reasonable’ and will vigorously pursue all available legal remedies on his and his family’s behalf.”

A Madison Police Department incident report released at the time says the police had been collaborating with Journey Mental Health “in determining that a 17-yr-old young man was exhibiting threatening behavior, consistent with someone in a mental health crisis,” and made the determination to place him in “protective custody” and take him to a local hospital.

When the teen attempted to walk out of the room, video shows an officer violently slamming him into a wall and then two officers forcing him down onto a couch.

The police incident report says the teen “refused to comply with their requests and subsequently resisted handcuffing.” It’s not clear from the video what requests he refused to comply with as there is no audio.

While he was being held on his back, a third officer put a bag — referred to as a “spit hood” — over his head and then punching the side or back of his head three times. The officers then brought him to the floor and took him into custody.

This video may be upsetting.

An external investigation released Friday said the officers’ conduct was “objectively reasonable” and fell within their training and professional standards, but that officers missed opportunities for a better outcome.