Video: Pima County Cop Tackles Teen With No Arms or Legs

Pima County Sheriff's Deputy tackles limbless teen
Pima County Sheriff's Deputy tackles limbless teen Via YouTube

After a 15-year-old quadruple amputee knocked over a trash can at a group home in Tucson, a Pima County Sheriff's Deputy responded by tackling the limbless teen to the ground and arresting him for "disturbing the peace."

The incident occurred in September but the footage is just now coming to light after it was published by KOLD-TV, a CBS affiliate in Tucson, on November 14. It has since spread nationally and sparked an internal affairs investigation at the sheriff's office.

The teenager, Immanuel, is in state custody after being abandoned by his parents, according to Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman. Feinman shared the eight-minute cellphone footage, recorded by another teen in the group home, with KOLD News 13.

On September 26, a group home employee called police to complain that Immanuel had knocked over a trash can and was yelling. A Pima County Sheriff's Deputy responded to the call and decided that Immanuel, who is black, was disturbing the peace. As the video begins, the white deputy can be seen kneeling on the ground and holding the shirtless teenager in a headlock.

Immanuel, who is clearly upset, screams at the deputy and tells him not to hold him down. He tries to get away, but the deputy strengthens his hold on the teenager, pushing his body on top of Immanuel's and pressing him into the ground.

Eventually, Immanuel stops trying to get away from the deputy. The deputy gets off the boy, stands back up, then leans down to yell and curse in Immanuel's face. He asks Immanuel what his problem is, his face inches away from Immanuel's. The teenager insists he doesn't have a problem, which apparently angers the deputy.

“I will raise my voice to you whenever the fuck I want, you understand?” the deputy shouted.

At that point, the teenager recording the video from the next room, C.J., tells the deputy, "You asked him a question, and he answered."

"Shut the hell up!" the deputy snaps. He then walks over to the other teen, who is eating cereal, and tells him to "shut the hell up" and stay out of the situation as it does not involve him. The teenager tells the deputy to get out of his face.

"You're going to get arrested too," the deputy says.

Another teen in the group home then begins recording the incident. C.J. can be seen placing his cereal down and complying with the deputy by putting his arms behind his back.

C.J. is not resisting and the deputy has already restrained the teen when the deputy suddenly slams the 16-year-old's face into a wall.

C.J. and Immanuel were both taken to jail for disorderly conduct.

After KOLD published the footage, the charges against the teens were dropped. The Pima County Attorney's Office said they decided to drop the charges after reviewing the disturbing video.

"At this time I don't have any further information other than that we have initiated an internal investigation into the incident," a spokesperson for the Pima County Sheriff's Department told New Times.

“These are kids who live in a group home because they can’t live with their parents,” Feinman said. “This is exactly the type of person that law enforcement needs to protect and defend. Instead, we see them being treated like they’re animals.”
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Meg O'Connor was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from April 2019 to April 2020.