Police in Washington state have opened a use of force investigation after a video showed an officer using pepper spray on a boy before kicking him in the back and to the ground.
The video, which was shot Sunday at the Central Washington State Fair in Yakima, appeared to show a group of teens disperse before an officer used pepper spray on a boy.
The boy appeared to clutch his face and stagger away as an officer kicked him in the back, while nearby police yelled “get on the ground,” according to the video, which was recorded by Jasmin Hernandez Cervera and posted to Facebook, where it has been viewed more than 308,000 times.
The Yakima Police Department on Monday acknowledged an officer had used “force while effecting an arrest” during the incident.
“Maintaining public trust is one of our highest priorities, and in doing so, investigators will be collecting all available evidence as it pertains to a use of force review,” interim Police Chief Gary Jones said in a statement.
“Police officers are often faced with difficult situations that require immediate assessment of circumstances in order to protect the community and themselves,” he continued. “I want to assure our community that use of force reviews are conducted in an objective, meticulous manner that requires layers of oversight.”
He urged anyone with information regarding the incident to contact the police.
“The men and women of the Yakima Police Department are dedicated to serve our community with humility and respect,” Jones said. “We strive to foster a community relationship that emphasizes accountability as one of its values.”
Bill Pickett, an attorney who said he is representing the boy in the video, said his client is a 17-year-old Native American member of the Yakama Nation.
“Our position on this is very clear: The conduct of the officer was abusive and wrong!” Pickett said in a statement to InsideEdition.com.
He said his client was trying to defend himself against a group of bullies who attacked him at the fair when police became involved, pepper spraying and kicking him.
“The bullies were allowed to simply run away, while our client suffered further abuse from the officers, those sworn to serve and protect,” Pickett said. “Outrageous and unacceptable.”
Pickett said his client was not arrested in the incident.
He waved away Yakima police’s announcement of their investigation, saying: “This is a prime example of why citizen review panels should be used to [investigate] these types of [cases]. The police investigating themselves is like asking a ‘fox to guard the hen house.’ This family and the public deserve more!
“We fully intend to pursue this matter to both shine a light on the misconduct and demand reforms,” he said.
Pickett said he plans to represent the boy in a lawsuit against the city if it "refuses to take accountability for the misconduct."
A suit has not yet been filed.