California 14-year-old speaks out after video shows officer pinning, punching him

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Warning: The video below includes violence and may be difficult to watch for some viewers.

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. (KTXL) – A teenage boy is speaking out after video was released Tuesday of a Northern California police officer pinning him to the ground and punching him.

Fourteen-year-old Elijah Tufono recounted the moment Rancho Cordova Police Officer Brian Fowell detained him.

“He’s on top of me and it looks like he’s about to hit me. Like, I’m reacting like any other normal human being would,” Tufono said. “It could’ve been better on both of our parts in this situation.”

Tufono said trouble began after he asked a stranger to purchase some tobacco for him and had it in hand.

“And that’s when the cop pulled up. And he asked me what was that in my hand. And I had gave him, as soon as he asked me that, I just gave it to him,” recalled Tufono.

He said the officer became confrontational despite him handing over the tobacco right away. Out of fear, Tufono said he was not truthful with the officer.

“I did lie to him and I didn’t cooperate, and I know that and I made that mistake. But that didn’t give him no right to do what he did,” said Tufono. 

On behalf of the Rancho Cordova Police Department, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office responded to the incident, saying in part:

It’s important to put video footage into context, especially in relation to a use of force incident. In this case, the deputy saw what he believed to be a hand-to-hand exchange between an adult and juvenile. As the deputy turned around, he lost sight of the adult, who left the area. When the deputy approached the juvenile, the juvenile was uncooperative and refused to give the deputy basic identifying information.

Sgt. Tess Deterding, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson

Tufono said the officer then tried to put handcuffs on him without telling him why.

“So when he did that, I pulled my right hand back and that’s when he started getting aggressive and trying to fight,” said Tufono. 

According to the department:

The juvenile became physically resistive at that time, causing the deputy to lose control of his handcuffs, which landed several feet away. The deputy attempted to maintain control of the juvenile without his handcuffs and while alone waiting for his partners to arrive and assist him.

Sgt. Tess Deterding, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson

Tufono said he was eventually handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car before ultimately being cited and let go.

“I mean, I do forgive him. I have nothing against the cop. He was just doing his job, I guess,” said Tufono.

Tufono’s family was grief-stricken after seeing the video shot by the teen’s friends.

“It just kind of broke my heart,” said Tufono’s uncle, Justin Tufono. “Anger and frustration went to sadness, especially the fact that he has a heart condition. And that’s the immediate thing that got to me. I’m just so happy that he was able to come home alive.” 

Elijah said he wants to pass along a message to the officer.

“Sir, I’m sorry for the way that I acted towards you and for not cooperating. And I just hope that we could meet again and be on better terms,” said Elijah.

Below is the full statement from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office and Rancho Cordova Police Department:

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