Cobb County, GA – The Cobb County police chief defended the officer featured in a controversial viral video arresting a 12-year-old boy and his aunt in a mall (video below).
The 12 year old, Corey Jackson, was allegedly selling CDs inside the mall on Oct. 6, something he had already been told not to do by authorities on two other occasions, the Marietta Daily Journal reported.
The little boy, an aspiring rapper who goes by the name of “Lil C-Note,” was with his aunt at the time of their arrests.
Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register faced off with reporters at a press conference on Tuesday and addressed questions about the arrest, and whether it was appropriate to charge a 12-year-old boy with a felony.
Chief Register said he felt the officer “detained him as gently as he possibly could,” and put the blame for the escalation of the incident squarely on the adult aunt who was with Jackson at the mall. He pointed to the boy’s two prior warnings not to sell CDs at the mall.
“What that meant is if they caught the young man back on the premises of Cumberland Mall selling CDs, then they would request that the police make a criminal trespass case [against] the young man,” the chief explained. “The officer was simply trying to get information and make a determination if a crime was occurring. During that interaction, the juvenile continued to be verbally resistant.”
Police have not yet released the name of the boy’s aunt, nor the name of the officer featured in the video.
The video showed an officer holding the boy by his arm as he radioed his dispatcher.
The boy tried to tug away, and the officer held on firmly, the video showed.
“Stop,” the officer told him. “You’re 12? Stop.”
In the background off camera, his aunt can be heard telling somebody on the phone what is happening at the mall.
“You’re about to go to jail. You’re going to go to a juvenile detention center if you don’t stop,” the officer warned Jackson in the video.
He responded with something unintelligible about how his friends would free him.
“He’s not doing anything. He got his rights! He’s not even doing anything right now. And I have his father on the phone and you won’t even speak to him” the aunt screamed at the officer in the video.
“Yep,” the officer responded, deadpan, as he stood holding the boy’s arm.
At that point, Chief Register said the child’s aunt physically attacked the officer, the Marietta Daily Journal reported.
“All he was doing was holding the young man by the arm,” the chief said.
A mall security guard grabbed Jackson and was able to hold onto him while the officer scuffled with his aunt, the video showed. She screamed and cursed through the altercation.
“You put your hands on me again and…” the officer started to warn her.
“You put your hands on my mother--kin nephew,” she shrieked in the video, interrupting him.
The boy can be seen struggling to be free of the security officer in the video.
Witnesses reported seeing the child push and swing at the officer as he attempted to get away, he said.
The chief told reporters that he hadn’t become aware of the incident until Monday, after the social media outrage generated by the video was brought to his attention. The family of the child has not filed a complaint with the police department.
He initiated an internal affairs investigation on Tuesday morning, he said.
But Chief Register did not put the officer on limited duty or suspend him because “from what I see, he didn’t violate any department rules.”
“He detains the 12-year-old by holding onto his arm. That was a perfect time for the aunt to step in and say ‘hey hey, this is going too far. We’ll give you his name - do what you need to do but let’s all calm down,’” the chief said.
He said that instead of cooperating with police, the aunt escalated the situation and managed to get herself arrested with more charges than her nephew.
Jackson was charged with felony obstruction, misdemeanor criminal trespass, and disorderly conduct, the chief said. Police released the boy to the custody of his father and did not take him to the youth detention center.
His aunt was charged with felony obstruction, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, and giving a false name and date of birth to police, Chief Register said.
The chief said internal affairs was continuing to investigate the incident.
“But I do believe that also that by having an internal investigation is going to give us the additional information that we need to ultimately make a final determination on what happened, and the issues, if there are issues there, that we as a department need to address,” he told reporters.
“We as a department… we’re going to do the right thing. And if the facts show that the officer was justified, which on a preliminary, I believe his actions were justified. Well, they were within legal bounds. Then I’m going to stand behind that officer,” Chief Register continued. “If we find otherwise, then I will act upon those facts.”
“I feel that the officer was in his legal means to stop the juvenile from leaving the scene,” he said.
The chief said there were bodycams at the scene and police were still sorting through the video. They were also gathering the paperwork from the first two incidents when Jackson was caught selling his CDs at the mall.
The officer who wrote that trespassing report was one of the officers who responded to the scene on Oct. 6 after a crowd had gathered, the chief said.
The chief said incidents like the one at the mall, and the sharing of such incidents on social media, wasn’t helping the community.
“We’re going to investigate this, but I don’t know if it rises to the occasion that we as a society should take it up on ourself to threaten anybody whether it be a police officer or whether it be another citizen,” he said. “It saddens me that the incident didn’t culminate in a different direction. I just talked to the officer and he feels the same way.”
Chief Register emphasized that in this sort of situation, it was the adult aunt’s job to calm the boy down, cooperate with the officer, and deescalate the situation.
Watch the officer detain the boy until he is attacked by the aunt in the video below: