Arizona Deputy Tackles 15-Year-Old With No Arms or Legs


KOLD News 13 first reported on the video last week and posted the raw footage online.

A video released last week to a local news station in Tucson, Arizona, shows a Pima County Sheriff’s deputy tackling a 15-year-old boy with no arms or legs on the floor of his group home.

The child, Immanuel, is reportedly in state custody because he was abandoned by his parents. The New York Times reports that on September 26, he became upset because he wanted to go back to school, and a woman who works at the group home called the police.

Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman, who represents Immanuel, told The Times that the boy was yelling and tried to move past Deputy Manuel Van Santen when he arrived. The deputy—at least twice Immanuel’s size—tackled the boy and pinned him in a headlock.

C.J., a 16-year-old resident of the group home, started recording on his cellphone after Immanuel was tackled, Mr. Feinman said. The eight-minute video, posted by KOLD News 13 last Wednesday, shows Immanuel in a headlock, frantically pleading not to be thrown down on his back.

The officer tackles Immanuel and wrestles him to the ground, then keeps the child pinned to the floor for over a minute before letting him get up.

Deputy Van Santen asks Immanuel what his problem is, and when he says he doesn’t have one, the officer bends over and yells directly into his face, “I will raise my voice to you whenever the f**k I want, you understand?”

C.J. interrupts, and the officer yells repeatedly at him to “Shut the hell up!” and threatens to arrest him, too. A third boy takes the phone and records two deputies handcuffing C.J. behind his back before Van Santen slams his head into the wall.

Both Immanuel and C.J. were arrested and jailed for disorderly conduct, Mr. Feinman told The Washington Post. Charges were later filed against Immanuel. Prosecutors dropped those charges Thursday after watching the video.

Pima County Sheriff Mark D. Napier said in a statement that his department received the video on Wednesday afternoon. He described it as “shocking, disturbing and personally saddening to watch.”

Deputy Van Santen was placed on administrative leave Friday pending a criminal investigation.

The boys in the group home are in the custody of the Arizona Department of Child Safety, Mr. Feinman told The Times, because they’ve been abused, neglected, or abandoned. “These are boys that have already been traumatized,” he said.

He told The Post he has an iron stomach as a public defender, but the first time he watched the video, he cried.

“The deputy treated Immanuel with contempt, especially given how old he is, his physical condition and what he had already been through,” Mr. Feinman told The Times. “He did not pause to think for a moment that the boy deserved to be treated like a child and a human being.”