SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CN) – A video posted online appears to show a San Antonio police officer repeatedly punching a 14-year-old girl outside of a quinceañera party Saturday, and police say they are reviewing body-camera footage to figure out exactly what happened.
Grainy footage shot by a bystander outside an event center in northeast San Antonio shows a young girl step towards a police officer before he turns and strikes her three or four times.
The officer and others were responding to reports of men fighting at the quinceañera party, which is a traditional Hispanic celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday.
The 14-year-old girl, described by her family as an honor student who never had any previous trouble with the police, was arrested on the felony charge of assaulting a police officer, but a lawyer for the girl says she never attacked the officer.
“We adamantly deny that she hit that officer,” attorney Artessia House told the San Antonio Current. “But even if you thought she did, why not just restrain this child? There were more than enough officers standing around her to do that.”
House said that the assault is “an absolute civil rights violation and an unnecessary, disproportionate use of force.”
“That officer MMA-style punched this girl as if she was a grown man,” House told the Current.
April Johnson, the mother of the girl, says a doctor who examined her after the attack diagnosed her with a mild traumatic brain injury and trauma to her face and neck muscles.
Johnson told the Current she’s angry that her daughter did not receive medical attention until she was released from juvenile lockup on Monday.
The mother, who was present during the incident, said she was choked and thrown to the ground by police as she tried to run and protect her daughter.
The San Antonio Police Department did not respond Thursday to requests for comment, but a spokesperson told the Associated Press on Wednesday that it is reviewing police body-camera footage.
The name of the officer involved in the incident has not been released.
San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor said in a statement Tuesday that the video was “hard to watch and listen to.”
“When I supported funding for body cameras it was for instances like this so that we can see exactly what happened and protect officers and citizens,” Taylor said.
Racial justice activists with a group called SATX4 expressed frustration with the mayor’s response, and started a petition on Change.org demanding justice for the girl.
“This officer must be held accountable for battering a child,” the petition says. “This was an attack on all of us as a community and especially the Black community.”
House told the Current that the incident on Saturday is part of a pattern of unnecessary force incidents in the city that the mayor and other authorities should take more seriously.
“I’ve personally heard Mayor Taylor say San Antonio is not Ferguson, Missouri, basically denying that we have a police misconduct issue here,” House said. “It’s like an addict dealing with an addiction — you can’t solve the problem until you admit you have one.”
House told the Current that she plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the department and the officer involved.