A controversy is brewing in Miami over whether police used excessive force in placing a 14-year-old boy in a chokehold because he was giving them what they called “dehumanizing stares.”
The incident involves the teenage Tremaine McMillian, who police say, was roughhousing with a friend at a beach when Miami-Dade police officers ordered him to stop fighting. After that point, the police officers patrolling the beach area asked him to point out his mother.
The officer, Detective Alvaro Zabaleta, said the teenager refused to cooperate. But McMillian said he did as he was asked.
"When he started to leave the beach area, officers had to get off their ATVs to detain him. He had closed arms, clenched fists and pulled his arm away," Zabaleta said, in an interview with CBS.
Saying that he sensed a threat from the teenager’s body language, the officer placed McMillian in a chokehold. Part of the scene was recorded by Tremaine’s mother on her cell phone.
"He started choking me, and as he was choking me, I urinated on myself because I couldn't breathe," the teenager said, speaking to a juvenile court judge.
The teenager added that it would have been impossible for him to have clenched his fist, as the officer claims, because he was holding a six-week-old puppy and feeding the pet with a bottle.
The officers arrested the teenager on a felony charge of resisting arrest with violence in addition to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
McMillian is being represented by a lawyer in the public defender’s office who entered a not guilty plea. The trial is set for July 16.
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(Photo: Courtesy of CBS Miami)