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Video shows Arizona officer repeatedly punching 13-year-old girl, cops claim she struck first

The incident happened at an apartment complex in Phoenix, Arizona while the police were responding to a stolen car investigation
Screengrabs of the video footage shows officer punching the 13-year-old teenager (YouTube)
Screengrabs of the video footage shows officer punching the 13-year-old teenager (YouTube)

A viral video shows a police officer punching a 13-year-old girl from Phoenix, Arizona, multiple times. Local police say the video doesn't reveal the entire story and the girl has struck the officer first. 

The incident happened when the police were responding to an area apartment complex on Monday, January 31 for reports of a stolen vehicle. Following the release of the officer's bodycam footage, police said the teen who later identified as Taylor Thomas, 13, approached the officer and refused to stay back. 


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Phoenix Police Sergeant Ann Justus describing the moments that led to the altercation said, "Four men got out of the car. As officers were taking them into custody, people began gathering around, several of them filming the officers. Other officers told onlookers they needed to stay back during the arrests. A female, who officers later learned was 13-years-old, approached the officers as they were still detaining people. She was warned multiple times to get back. She walked in front of officers as they were trying to put one of the men in the backseat of a police car and was moved out of the way by an officer."

Justin continued, "The female then passed by the officers who ordered her to stay back, and quickly approached two officers who had a man in custody. A female officer saw her approaching the officers and grabbed her arm to pull her back. The female swung her arm at the female officer, striking the female officer on the right side of the face. The officer’s body worn camera was knocked off at that time, and can be seen, on other officers’ body camera videos, flying off of her vest. The female officer responded to being hit by striking the female in the face."

Charlene Thomas, the 13-year-old's aunt told KSAZ-TV that her niece is being wrongly accused of assaulting an officer. She said, "I thought my niece was just going to be unconscious the way that the officer did my niece." "I just was devastated." The teen added that she doesn't even know who the people in the purportedly stolen vehicle were. "I was never in the stolen car. I was out with four kids getting them ice cream."

Charlene said, "I’m yelling ‘she’s a minor!’ You’re gonna lock me up when I’m telling them … even when I told them she’s a minor, they didn’t stop. She still kept going when she had her on the ground. She could’ve just stopped and done anything besides keep punching her."

Meanwhile, Phoneix Police issued an official statement regarding the incident on Twitter alongside sharing the body-worn camera as proof of their claim. The authorities stated that the incident is currently under review as they are gathering more information into the incident and have even reached out to the public if they have any other vital information related to the altercation.