Orlando Police Officer Neal Chase used an excessive amount of force when he kicked a 13-year-old boy in the chest during an arrest in May 2018, according to documents from an Internal Affairs investigation.
Chase, a K-9 officer, was suspended for 16 hours in June 2018 after the probe found that his actions weren't in compliance with the "Response to Resistance and Apprehension Techniques." Body camera footage was not released to Orlando Weekly
because the arrestee is a juvenile.
Footage from another officer's body camera, as well as a review of the reports from the incident, prompted the investigation. In it, the investigators write that the boy was in "a position of submission" – on his knees and with his hands up – when Chase kicked him in the chest.
According to the report, on the early morning of May 31, 2018, Chase and other officers responded to multiple vehicle break-ins around the 500 block of East Jackson Street. Chase responded to the area, where he saw two male teens running on the northbound sidewalk.
From inside the driver's side of his vehicle, he gave them two loud warning: "Police K-9, stop running or I will release my dog and you will get bit!" The 13-year-old suspect then ran about 20 feet further and began tossing items from his pockets, including an iPhone X, a window punch, a flashlight, a watch and a pair of gloves.
Documents show that Chase then exited his police vehicle and ordered the boy to get onto the ground. The suspect went to his knees. Chase ordered the suspect to get "all the way down onto the ground!" The boy allegedly ignored that command, and Chase used his left foot to kick the kid in the chest, and he fell over onto his back.
Orlando Police Officer Michelle Edwards, who was also a witness on the scene, then rolled the juvenile over onto his chest and put him in handcuffs. An ambulance arrived on the scene after the suspect complained of chest pain, according to the report.
Police say the other teen involved in the incident, who was also apprehended, admitted that he and the suspect had broken into several cars over the course of a few days. They were later arrested on burglary, criminal mischief and grand theft charges, according to investigative documents.
Officers on the scene described the suspect's fleeing as an "active resistance" to police. When the teenager stopped running and dropped to his knees but didn't immediately lie flat on the ground at the officers' request, the officers claimed he was "passively" resisting arrest, the report says.
In the review, Sergeant Ryan McConnell did not approve of how Chase "utilized intensified techniques ... to overcome" the suspect's resistance.
Chase blamed his decision to use excessive force on "extenuating circumstances," such as the fact that the boy was a felony suspect and could have been in possession of a weapon. He said the juvenile's eyes were moving "in an attempt to potentially look for another escape route as he had already fled ... from officers for multiple blocks."
Chase disputed his suspension following the probe and filed grievances with the department. He claimed his technique is "taught and standard practice by SWAT members during dynamic entries."
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón rejected the grievances.
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