On Tuesday, a graphic video went viral of a California officer beating an unarmed Black teen who was pinned to the ground. Now the 14-year-old is speaking out about the incident, even saying that he forgives the officer in the attack.
According to FOX40, Elijah Tufono recalled the moment Rancho Cordova Police Officer Brian Fowell pinned him down. “He’s on top of me and it looks like he’s about to hit me. Like, I’m reacting like any other normal human being would,” Tufono explained to FOX40. “It could’ve been better on both of our parts in this situation.”
Tufono said that the situation started because he asked a stranger to buy some tobacco for him. Once he had it in his hand, Tufono said this is when the cop pulled up.
“He asked me what was that in my hand. And I had gave him, as soon as he asked me that, I just gave it to him,” said Tufono.
He said that the officer was confrontational from the start and because he was scared, Tufono said that he wasn’t truthful with the cop. “I did lie to him and I didn’t cooperate, and I know that and I made that mistake. But that didn’t give him no right to do what he did,” said Tufono.
Tufono said the officer then attempted to put handcuffs on him without explaining why. “So when he did that, I pulled my right hand back and that’s when he started getting aggressive and trying to fight,” said Tufono.
Tufono explained that he was eventually handcuffed and escorted away in a patrol car before ultimately being cited and let go. “I mean, I do forgive him. I have nothing against the cop. He was just doing his job, I guess,” Tufono said of the situation.
The teen even went on to apologize to the officers saying, “Sir, I’m sorry for the way that I acted towards you and for not cooperating. And I just hope that we could meet again and be on better terms.”
On behalf of the Rancho Cordova Police Department, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office defended Fowell’s actions in a statement:
“It’s important to put video footage into context, especially in relation to a use of force incident. In this case, the deputy saw what he believed to be a hand-to-hand exchange between an adult and juvenile. As the deputy turned around, he lost sight of the adult, who left the area. When the deputy approached the juvenile, the juvenile was uncooperative and refused to give the deputy basic identifying information.”
Considering the kid is only 14 years old, there’s no certainty he would have had any traditional forms of identification such as a driver’s license.
The Sheriff’s Office continued:
“The juvenile became physically resistive at that time, causing the deputy to lose control of his handcuffs, which landed several feet away. The deputy attempted to maintain control of the juvenile without his handcuffs and while alone waiting for his partners to arrive and assist him.”
Tufono’s family was devastated when they watched the video shot by the teen’s friends.
“It just kind of broke my heart. Anger and frustration went to sadness, especially the fact that he has a heart condition. And that’s the immediate thing that got to me,” explained Tufono’s uncle, Justin Tufono. “I’m just so happy that he was able to come home alive.”
Meanwhile, various leaders have spoken out against the cop’s actions including California Sen. Kamala Harris. “This is a horrific abuse of power,” she wrote in a tweet. “This officer must be held accountable.”