Video of Lakeland police officers punching teen sparks outrage

Editor’s note: The video in this story may be disturbing for some viewers. The video’s audio has been muted due to profanity.

This story contains reporting from Linnie Supall.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A video obtained by WFLA shows two Lakeland police officers punching a teenage boy and using a Taser on him as they tried to get him to leave an apartment complex.

According to an arrest report, the officers were called to a pool at the Caroline Apartments along Griffin Road on Memorial Day after someone called to report that there were people there who didn’t live at the complex. The report said the manager told police to trespass anyone who didn’t live there.

Police said the 16-year-old didn’t provide them with an apartment number and did not identify himself, and was verbally trespassed from the property. He left the pool to get his belongings, according to the report.

The report said the teen was asked to leave the property again, and put his hand in the officer’s face, but that was not captured on video. He reportedly “tensed his body” when an officer grabbed his arm and tried to pull away.

In the video, the teen is seen pressed up against a wall as an officer punches him in the head repeatedly. At one point, the second officer grabs his hair while the other continues punching him in the head.

The teen makes several attempts to get the officers to stop punching him by swinging his arms.

While the second officer is punching him, the other deploys a Taser, knocking the teen to the ground.

The video ends before the teen is placed in handcuffs.

The police report acknowledges that the officers used “several closed fist strikes” against the teen. The officer who wrote the report said he was hit once in the face.

“Chief [Sammy] Taylor has been informed of the incident, has spoke with Dr. [Clayton] Cowart and has already requested an administrative review by our Office of Professional Standards,” the department told News Channel 8 in a statement.

The teen was taken to a hospital for medical evaluation before being transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

He faces charges of trespass, failure to leave property, battery on a law enforcement officer, and resisting an officer with violence.

“I couldn’t stomach the fact that two LPD officers literally battered my son,” said Jatae Lewis, the teen’s mother.

Lewis said she won’t stop until she gets justice for her son.

“Y’all are out here to protect and serve, not to be beating on peoples’ children,” she said.

Lakeland police previously came under fire after a man was punched by an officer while on the ground during a traffic stop in December 2022. Antwan Glover was charged with three counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and one count of resisting officers with violence following that incident, which was recorded on cell phone video.

Lakeland police officers stopped Glover for not wearing a seatbelt. Officers told investigators they smelled marijuana and Glover got out of the vehicle. It was later discovered Glover had a medical marijuana license.

The charges against Glover were dropped on May 16.

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