California police defend using spit mask on 12-year-old boy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Police in Sacramento are defending their use of a mesh "spit mask" on a combative 12-year-old boy.

Police on Wednesday released officer body camera video that shows the boy struggling and apparently spitting on one of the officers.

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Witness video of the arrest went viral, but now Police are releasing their own video and telling their side of the story. You can watch the extended version below.

Police say they spotted the boy running away from a security guard and helped detain him last month. The video shows officers working to calm the boy, who repeatedly curses and shouts that he can't breathe.

Officers were confronted by bystanders who videotaped the encounter while objecting that the boy was being detained.

Police Chief Daniel Hahn says officers used the mask to protect themselves and no one was hurt.

The boy was later released to his mother and cited for battery against an officer and resisting police.

"We will not tolerate our community, particularly our young people, being treated in the way this young man was treated," said the attorney for the boy's family, Mark Harris in a Youtube video.

Harris says his client was just enjoying a nearby neighborhood carnival when he accosted and chased down by the security guard.

"We want to make sure that the greater Sacramento community, the state of California, and the world are aware of what happened to this young man."

Harris, a civil rights attorney, also represents the family of Stephon Clark, the unarmed 22-year-old black man who was shot to death by Sacramento Police in 2018.

That deadly shooting led to multiple protests and intense criticism of the Sacramento Police Department.

In March of 2019, it was announced that the officers who shot and killed Clark would not face charges for their role in the deadly shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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