UPDATE: The 16-year-old has been released from the hospital and taken to the Youth Detention Center.
A teenager hospitalized, four officers on desk duty, and the GBI now involved in the investigation of a “use of force” incident on Savannah’s streets this weekend.
It ended near Mississippi and Ohio streets Saturday night just after 7:30,
Police tell News 3 they stopped a car they say was driving recklessly.
When they did, a 16 year old jumped out and started running.
Police say one officer tackled him, but the teen kept resisting and more officers got involved using what the report calls “physical force” against him.
The report goes on to say the 16 year old told officers he had asthma and was having trouble breathing, he was taken to the hospital.
Savannah police say they want to be transparent about this investigation, that’s why they called the GBI.
“When we talk about transparency, this is not very transparent,” said WSAV Crime Expert and former SCMPD Major Gerry Long.
WSAV Crime Expert Gerry Long says considering the details released so far, she’s surprised the GBI was called in to investigate.
But what she does know, age can’t play a factor in the arrest.
“Unless they are at an elementary school, they don’t necessarily know the age of the subject,” said Long.
“You don’t know when someone jumps out of a car how old they are,” explained Long. “And to use different tactics on a juvenile or different tactics on a woman can be dangerous. because you may be underestimating their abilities.”
“You don’t know if that individual is armed or not armed, so your primary focus at that point is gaining control of that subject,” Getting them into handcuffs, restraining them in some way that they can’t pull their hands out of their pockets and can’t pull out a gun or a knife.”
None of these officers had body cameras or tasers, which could have changed the outcome – or revealed more about what happened.
“A better explanation all around would help the public,” said Long. “The subject’s family and the officer involved.”
Four Savannah officers involved in the arrest have been put on “restricted duty”.
That means they can be armed, but will not be doing any police related duties on the streets of Savannah.
The GBI tells News 3 it is “routine” for their agency to get involved in any incident involved an injury to a suspect.
The 16 year old suspect now faces five charges, including felony obstruction and possession of marijuana.
He remains in the hospital tonight with what are being called “physical injuries” from the arrest. ==================================================================================== The arrest of a teenager made by Metro officers is under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation tonight. The teen was injured when police say he fought with officers during the arrest.
Metro Police say the incident began when undercover drug unit investigators spotted what they believed to be a suspicious black Nissan Altima driving recklessly in the State streets area around 7:30 Saturday evening. Police say the officers were wearing vests identifying them as police when they attempted to stop the teen leaving the car. The 16 year old allegedly ran from officers and was tackled to the ground where police say He continued to fight with the officer until a K-9 arrived on the scene.
Officers say they found ten small bags of marijuana on the teen upon arrest. According to information provided by Metro – the teen told officers he has asthma and was having trouble breathing. EMS was called and he was taken to Memorial where he remains under police watch charged with obstruction, possession of marijuana and reckless driving.
After being advised of the issues at approximately 1:00 a.m. Sunday, Police say Chief Joseph Lumpkin, Sr. requested the GBI to investigate the arrest incident. Chief Lumpkin released a statement saying the department will be completely transparent throughout the investigation, releasing all information it can without inhibiting the GBI’s probe, “It will always be the intention of my department to keep the public informed of all the facts of cases to the point that we can,” he said, “But I have asked the GBI to investigate and we cannot release information that may hinder their appropriate and proper investigation. It has been placed in the hands of the GBI and from this point forward that agency will take the lead in any information released.”
The teen will be transported to the Youth Detention Center once he is released.
The officers involved in the response to force and arrest are Sgt. Corey Schaff, Officer Antwan Diggs, Corporal John Eric Smith, and Advanced Police Officer Michael Dobson. They have been placed on restrictive duty status. That means the officers are authorized to be armed and report for restrictive duty, but to perform only administrative functions, no street assignments, no overtime assignments or off-duty assignments.
Members of the UNIT were in plainclothes and not outfitted with Born Worn Cameras. Moving forward Police say Chief Lumpkin has ordered that any overtime officer or other assets deployed in support of the UNIT, wear BWCs and be equipped with an Electronic Control Device (Tasers).