Bridgeport teen at center of police brutality complaint - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Bridgeport teen in YouTube video at center of police brutality complaint

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(YouTube photo) (YouTube photo)

A Bridgeport teen seen in a YouTube video being handcuffed on the ground is at the center of a police brutality claim.

The video shows a police officer struggling with 16-year-old Eric Diaz.

The teen said he was at a 24-hour store on Sunday around 3 a.m. He said he was there to buy his sister something.

However, Bridgeport has a curfew in place. Teens 16 years old and under were not supposed to be out after 11 p.m.

"It was kind of traumatizing," said Diaz. "I've never been through that because the way he was choking, I was getting ready to pass out, like suffocating."

A friend of Diaz caught the incident on camera and could be heard yelling at the officer.

"Why are you smacking him in the face," the friend asked in the video.

The unnamed friend told Eyewitness News that it was a quick reaction and that he didn't know what to do.

Diaz said he was on his phone with his sister when it happened. He said he told the officer he was 16, but said "hold on" because he was still on the phone.

"After I said that he just got mad," Diaz said. "He hopped out of his car. (He said) 'Don't ever tell me to hold on.' (He) grabbed me against the fence."

Diaz said he was then thrown to the ground and nearly choked. He said he had a scrape on his chin, a cut on his neck and was black and blue on the top of his eye.

A spokesperson for Bridgeport police said that the officer was using reasonable force.

They said in a written statement that:

"The suspect even attempted to stand up in the midst of being arrested. He also pushed the officer and didn't willingly provide his hands while being handcuffed. In addition, the officer reported that the suspect grabbed at his duty belt while resisting arrest."

Eyewitness News asked the Diaz if he did anything to provoke the officer.

"I didn't," he said. "The only thing I tried to do was get up after he punched me in my face."

Diaz's family said they hired an attorney and were discussing filing a brutality complaint with the police department. They said a lawsuit could be filed Thursday.

The family said the teen had never been in serious trouble.

Because he was a juvenile, Eyewitness News did not have access to any criminal history.

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