Durham police respond to criticism over use of force in arrest of Whitby teen
A video of Durham Regional Police officers using force during the arrest of a 16-year-old in Whitby continues to generate discussion.
“It [was] all initiated by family members contacting Durham Regional Police and advising of a distraught male,” said Const. George Tudos.
The incident happened on Cathedral Drive in Whitby on May 15 at around 3:30 p.m. Officers resorted to using force, police say, because the teenager was being un-cooperative.
Several punches were used to get him to make his hands available, officers explained.
“The number one priority is the safety of the male who already had existing wounds to his hands,” said Const. Tudos. “Officers obviously didn’t know or not if he was armed or [if[ there was safety concerns to that male or to the officers.”
Tiffany Forde lives across the street from where the arrest took place. She wasn’t home at the time, she said, but has seen the video.
“I’m hurt, ” Forde said. “I’m just wondering — he’s punching him in his back, I’m just wondering why all this force is needed.
“I feel like the police response could have been adjusted.”
Residents in the area say teenagers often come and hang out at the park, near where the arrest happened. But this is the first incident of its kind that they could think of, they said.
“I know these kids do come here after school, probably about six or eight of them,” said Forde.
WATCH: (June 3, 2019) Officers seen in video punching prone teen followed protocol: Durham police
Brian O’Malley also lives in the area and says it’s generally a quiet street.
“I guess it’s happening all over the place,” said O’Malley. “Like I said, we don’t know what happened before the police took him down, if they had reason to.”
Police say they did what they could to get the 16-year-old’s hands behind his back for his and the officers safety.
The teen was eventually placed into custody and police say he was not injured.
“A copy of the video has been sent to our training bureau and to our Professional Standards Unit, as well, just to review. But right now there is no investigation into the actions of those officers,” said Const. Tudos.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.