TROY, Ala. — Police in a south Alabama town were justified in repeatedly hitting a teenager who tried to get away from them during his arrest and won’t be charged, a prosecutor said Friday.
The 17-year-old had one arm in handcuffs when he attempted to pull away from Troy police during the confrontation Dec. 23, and one of four officers at the scene punched him several times, said Michael Jackson, a district attorney who served as a special prosecutor in the review.
The teen had placed his free hand at his side like he could have been attempting to reach for a weapon, Jackson said.
The incident gained widespread attention after the youth’s mother shared a photo of his battered face on social media, and the NAACP publicly supported the teen, who is black. A family spokesman said the teen remembers being kicked by a white officer.
Race played no factor in the confrontation, Jackson said, and the officer hit the youth with his fists rather than kicked him.
“The guy started fighting the officers. They tried to subdue him. This isn’t a situation like you’ve seen in other cities where an officer shot an unarmed person,” Jackson said.
An attorney representing the teen’s family didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
Officers were investigating possible business burglaries when they stopped the youth, who now faces charges in juvenile court.
The boy’s family has called for the release of audio and video recordings of the confrontation, but Jackson said those are evidence in the criminal case against him and can’t be released publicly under after the charges are resolved.
An audio recording captured officers telling the teen to get on the ground, the prosecutor said, and police video captured at least some of the scuffle.