Officer suspended over beating of teen

March 26, 2010 2:17:45 PM PDT
A Newark police officer has been suspended after he was caught on a surveillance camera beating a teenager. It happened Wednesday night just before 10:00.

The video is from a surveillance camera outside of 47 Spruce Street.

Travis Rattrey, 15, is seen sitting on the steps. He says he was waiting for a friend.

That friend comes into the picture at the same time as an undercover Newark narcotics officer.

"He started checking my pockets and said, 'Where are you going?' I said I'm going to meet my friend," Travis explained.

Over the next minute or so, the officer continued to check Travis pockets, and then all of a sudden, he unloaded.

The officer punched Travis in the face and slams him into a glass window. He and another officer then took him to the ground.

Travis admits there was some verbal jousting.

"He was talking to his friend. This kid has a smart mouth. As he was patting me down, he just swung," Travis said.

Travis did move his arms just before the officer swung, but he says he was trying to pull up his pants.

After the takedown, his mom, who is pregnant, came out of the building.

""I told them, 'Get off my son. Get him off the ground.' They're like, 'Ma'am, back up. You're interfering with police business. I said, 'I don't care. Somebody explain to me what's going on. Why is my son on the ground?'" Erica Hankerson said.

Travis has cuts on his chin and face.

His braces tore through his lips and some dreadlocks were ripped out.

In the end, he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault of a police officer and resisting arrest.

Eyewitness News showed the video to the police director. After watching it, the officer who punched Travis was suspended without pay. The other three were reassigned.

We were given a statement:

"Based on preliminary investigation the primary officer involved in this incident has been suspended without pay, while the other officers present at the scene have been temporarily reassigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation. The Newark Police Department is committed to ensuring that each of our officers maintains the fine traditions of this agency, providing professional police services to the public. This agency will maintain a zero tolerance policy for any actions that jeopardize or tarnish the public's trust."

Travis and his mom are angry. They are talking to internal affairs and a lawyer.

"I want justice. I want them fired," Hankerson said.