Norristown, PA – The family of a teen girl who was detained by police during a massive brawl at a church carnival on Saturday night has demanded that the officer be fired for allegedly choking her (video below).
Cell phone footage showed the officer being pummeled by the mob of over 50 violent teens as he tried to hold on to the girl with one arm.
Norristown Police Chief Mark Talbot held an open community forum on Sunday night to discuss what occurred at the St. Francis Spring Carnival, WCAU reported.
Norristown police responded to the carnival at approximately 8:30 p.m., after they received reports of between 50-100 teens fighting.
"The crowd ignored all orders by the police and continued to fight,” Chief Talbot explained, according to WCAU. “Officers reported being kicked, shoved, and punched and were forced to call for assistance from several surrounding departments.”
Cell phone footage showed two officers as they tried to detain a combative female on the ground.
The screaming mob surrounded them, prompting one of the officers to jump up and push the angry group away from them.
But the crowd quickly closed in behind him, separating him from his partner, who was trying to hold onto the girl with one hand.
Another female then charged towards him, at which point he struck at her with his free hand, the video showed.
She came at him again, delivering several blows to his head as he continued to hang on to the initial suspect.
The second officer immediately pulled the second teen away from the officer on the ground, and tackled the girl as the mob swarmed them yet again.
The officers struggled on the ground with the two suspects as multiple teens shoved and hit them during the tangled melee.
A bystander intervened and tried to stand over the officers to shield them from the attack, the video showed.
He pushed several teens aside, then held his arms out to create a barrier.
A third officer then rushed into the fray, and pulled out his pepper spray to back the crowd up.
It did not appear that the officer actually deployed the spray.
“Get back! Get back!” he ordered.
Witness Josh Nelson said that the officers were overwhelmed by the size and violence of the irate mob, and said police did nothing wrong in how they handled the incident, WCAU reported.
“There’s no reason for you to be swinging at a cop when he’s just merely trying to break up a huge fight,” Nelson said. “[The police] did what they had to do. They jumped in the middle of the crowd, started moving people. People started hitting them.”
Chief Talbot said that “several” arrest were made as a result of the scuffle, WCAU reported.
He also pushed back against allegations that the teens' race had anything to do with how police responded to the incident.
"This is not a racist police department," Chief Talbot said during the two-hour forum. "This wasn't an act of terror by police. These officers were overcoming a significant amount of resistance."
Alisha Bates, the mother of the girl who was allegedly choked by the officer who was being assaulted, said she wants the officer to apologize and be fired.
“To see your child like that and to hear the extent of the cries in the crowd, you know, because they were so afraid because of how bad she was being choked they literally did not think she had much longer," Bates told WPVI.
"I was saying, 'I can't breathe. Can you please let me go?'” the girl told WCAU. “It was pressing right on my neck. I couldn't breathe at all. It was terrible.”
Chief Talbot said the department is investigating the incident to determine whether or not the officers’ use of force was justified, WPVI reported.
"We have a lot of people there that, from what we hear, were out of control,” he said. “The officers were thrown into an environment in which they were tasked with dealing with something extremely difficult and they dealt with it.”
“It's up to people like me - after the fact - to figure out if they did the right thing," the chief added.
But many people at the forum demanded that the officers involved in the altercation be placed on desk duty until the investigation is complete.
"These officers should not be able to be still patrolling the streets,” Tanesha Webb declared. “I don't think it's safe for our community. I honestly don't believe that it's safe for the officers to be roaming the community after such a heightened situation.”
“I saw a child being choked to death!” another woman chimed in.
You can watch cell phone footage of the officers’ encounter with the violent mob in the video below. WARNING - Graphic Content: