NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A 15-year-old boy is allegedly ‘taken down’ by police. It started with a bonfire on private property in Wilmer and turned into a chaotic run-in with officers and firefighters. Now a Dallas County police department is investigating allegations of an officer using excessive force.
The family of the teenager says the boy was kicked in the head, but police tell a different story. Either way, a police officer is suspended and one department is taking another look at its policies.
Officer Chuck Hamilton has been suspended with pay, while police review the excessive force complaint. But the chief also showed CBS11 News Hamilton’s dash camera video – a recording that he says paints a different picture of what happened.
Tommy Soroka’s Friday night bonfire ended Saturday morning with him in handcuffs. “They just slammed me down there,” he said pointing. “Shoved my face in the gravel.”
When the teen tried to get back up, police say a fire fighter pinned him down as well. Both Soroka and the teenaged neighbor suffered scrapes and bruises, and the teen suffered a large welt to the forehead.
While Soroka is upset about what happened to him, he says he’s more concerned with the injuries to his 15-year-old neighbor. The Wilmer resident says there was, “unnecessary brutality done.”
Cell phone video captured by Soroka’s friend shows the chaos.
Wilmer firefighters responded to the Dallas County property to investigate a report of an illegal burn. It was then that Soroka says his young neighbor tried to keep the firefighters away from the property.
“He’s just a young kid – 15-years-old,” Soroka said of his neighbor. “I don’t know. He might have done the wrong thing about doing that.”
After the teen blocked the path Wilmer firefighters called the Wilmer Police Department for backup.
Dash camera video shows that police handcuffed the teenager after he refused to move. A few minutes later a firefighter pins the boy to the ground.
Soroka said the incident went from bad to worse. “When they tossed him in the air and he landed on his head, that was really uncalled for.”
The property where the bonfire was started is the jurisdiction of the Dallas County Sheriff, but Wilmer Police Chief Victor Kemp, says his officers had a right to be there, because firefighters called for help. “Exactly, he said. “They were initially there for support and they were ultimately requested down onto the property.”
Regardless of who has a right to be on the property, Chief Kemp says the accusations about what happened later are not being taken lightly. ‘Anytime there’s an accusation or allegation of excessive force we take that serious, because public trust is one of our main missions at the department.”
The property owner says the welt on the teen’s head came from the steel-toed boot of a firefighter. But police say the injury happened because the boy was banging his head against the cage inside the police squad car.
In the end no one was arrested. But Wilmer police continue to review how officer’s handled the incident.
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