San Antonio Cop ‘Justified’ In Punching 14-Year-Old Girl

The San Antonio Police Department determined that Officer Gary Tuli was not in the wrong when he struck a 14-year-old black girl in the face back in May.

The San Antonio, Texas, police department has determined that one of its officers was in compliance with department policy when he struck a 14-year-old girl in the face.

Back in May, video footage surfaced showing Officer Gary Tuli punching a teen girl at a quinceañera, the Texas Observer reports.

Since the incident, two of Tuli’s superiors reportedly signed a form declaring that Tuli’s actions were justified, he violated no department policy, and he needs no further training.

Tuli alleges that the unnamed teen hit him first, and he suffered scratches and bruising to his face as a result. However, the young girl’s attorney, Artessia House, denies that her client ever swung at the officer.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the footage from the incident doesn’t appear to show her throw a punch either.

House also raised a very relevant point about the fact that even if the girl did strike him, his reaction to punch her back does not seem befitting.

The SAPD’s use-of-force policy states that if its officers must use force, it should be “proportional with the circumstances of the situation.” House questions why Tuli didn’t simply restrain the teen — who is likely much smaller than him — if she swung at him.

According to House, asserting that Tuli’s actions were justified “sends the message that San Antonio police can punch young black girls in the face, on camera, and completely get away with it.”

The city of San Antonio initially attempted to block the release of the use-of-force report, and police spokesperson Romana Lopez reportedly said the department had no comments regarding why Tuli’s actions were considered justified, Raw Story reports.

The honor roll student was ultimately arrested on the night in question for assault on a police officer and taken to the local juvenile facility where she spent nearly two days. However, prosecutors have not formally filed charges against the teen as of yet.

The girl said she asked for medical attention while in lockup but didn’t receive it, but the use-of-force report claims that she didn’t suffer any injuries. After her release, the girl’s mother took her to a doctor who diagnosed her with mild traumatic brain injury and trauma to her face and neck. 

House is absolutely right that this outcome sends a damaging message to San Antonio youth, particularly young girls of color who will likely be reluctant to call the police in emergency situations out of fear of becoming victims of this type of abuse. 

Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Flickr, via Flickr

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