BRIDGEPORT — An investigation is underway into Bridgeport Police officers use of force after a video surfaced showing an officer allegedly beating a teenager over the weekend.
Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez said he placed several officers on administrative status while the Office of Internal Affairs investigates. In the video, 18-year-old Aaron Kearney can be seen face-first against a car hood while his mother pleads for police not to hurt him.
“Don’t hurt my son,” the mother cries to police. “You’re punching my son.”
“I am,” a female officer in the can be heard responding, “get back.”
That unidentified female officer can be seen in the video hitting Kearney’s face.
“Why is she fu***** my son up,” the mother says, with a response from the same officer, “get back or you’re next.”
FOX61 spoke exclusively with Kearney’s aunt Tiffany Elliott.
“That’s what we have a serious issue with right now because you should not be in law enforcement if you’re threatening people like that,” Elliott said. “By saying “you’re next,” is she next to get beat up? Is she next to be detained for no reason at all? We don’t know what she meant by that, but it was wrong.”
Bridgeport Police said they were responding to a minor accident on Seaview Avenue involving Kearney, Friday at about 9:30 p.m. Police said they learned during a routine check that his license was suspended. When police told Kearney he would have to appear in court for driving with a suspended license he, “became outwardly belligerent and violent towards the officers, who then felt the need to call for backup,” according to police.
Police said he was violently resisting police officers claiming he was both verbally and physically abusive.
Bridgeport Police said the video raises “serious questions,” about tactics used during the arrest resulting in an immediate internal investigation.
“The Bridgeport Police Department takes this incident very seriously and our primary concern is always for the safety and protection of every resident of our city,” A Bridgeport Police Department spokesperson wrote in a statement Saturday. “However, if there was a violation of police arrest protocol or excessive use of force, we will get to the bottom of it and provide accountability for the department and our community.”
Elliott said the family wants justice for Kearney.
“I really don’t think she should be in law enforcement, she needs to have some kind of evaluation done, because it was too much, it was really excessive force,” she said.
Elliot said they come from a family of police officers. Kearney’s grandfather was a Bridgeport Police officer for nearly four decades. She said her mother also retired from Bridgeport Police and her step-brother is a former New Haven Police captain.
“There are several good cops out there,” Elliot told FOX61. “I mean, cops are there to help us and we know that but there are a few that I think are using their badge the wrong way and that’s what we need to put a stop to."
Kearney’s family said he has never had trouble with police before and has attended summits with Perez on improving community relations.
His family said he was captain of the football team at Harding High School, he graduated last year.
Bridgeport Police Chief Armando J. Perez released a statement regarding the incident:
“The Bridgeport Police Department is committed to public service and the safeguarding of the public’s dignity and constitutionally afforded rights.
The men and women of the Department work tirelessly day and night, often at great peril to themselves to make Bridgeport a better and safer community.
When it comes to my attention that there are legitimate questions surrounding an officer’s use of force, I place that officer on administrative status. This status removes the officer from contact with the public while the case is expeditiously and vigorously investigated by the Bridgeport Police Office of Internal Affairs. This measure is taken to protect both the officer and the public while the officer is afforded their due process.
I have taken this step with the officers involved in the incident Friday night following a motor vehicle accident on Seaview Avenue, some of which was filmed on video and posted to social media.
In the event that an officer is found to have knowingly and willfully violated policy by using excessive force in the performance of their duties, I will make every effort to see that officer separated from their employment with the Bridgeport Police Department and where applicable arrested and charged with a crime.
As the Chief of Police, I have a zero-tolerance policy for abusing the citizens who we are tasked and sworn to protect and serve.
It is unfortunately also common for Bridgeport Police officers to face situations that require the use of force, up to and including the use of deadly force. I continue to support my officers who meet the standards of reasonableness in these situations when such a use of force is justified.”
Kearney is charged with breach of peace and assault on a police officer.
***Associated Press contributed to this story***