HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A 17-year-old Connecticut athlete held a Hartford police officer in a headlock for more than 18 seconds at a fast-food restaurant. Video shows a rowdy crowd surrounded the two, cheering on the fight, not helping. Deputy Chief Brian Foley said it was a volatile situation and very dangerous for the officer.
“He was beginning to lose consciousness according to his report, so it’s not pretty to see on TV, but this is what occurs out there and this is the new face of what is going on in the country in 2015,” said Foley.
The officer was able to free himself, and the teen takes off. The officer uses pepper spray and then hits him in the leg with a baton before he is able to take him into custody. People in the crowd called it police brutality, but people we talked to at the Burger King see it differently. The teen was not in handcuffs, but fighting the officer.
“That’s assault on a police officer,” said one man.
“That is crazy,” said a woman. “That is assault on a police officer.”
Deputy Chief Foley says they 17-year-old was charged with a range of crimes, including assault on a police officer.
“The new face of what is going on in the country in 2015, these police videos are coming out more and more and more and we embrace it in the city of Hartford,” said Foley. “We wish there was more video of this incident.”
There are videos of other fights that happen in the exact same spot in front of the Burger King over the last couple of years.
Police have been successfully cracking down on high school students who hang out at the Burger King to fight and and cause problems. They say that’s what the officer was doing last night. It started when the officer asked the teen to please leave the Burger King because he didn’t purchase a meal and was loitering. Deputy Chief Foley says there is a proper way to escalate force when the teen refused to leave.
“You want the verbal commands first, then the physical restraint,” said Foley. “If that is not effective the next step would be your pepper spray. From there it would be whatever devices you have on you.”
The officer involved is out on medical leave after being hurt in the incident.