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Teen's arrest prompts concerns about Carbondale officer

  • A video still shows the moment the Carbondale Police officer used force.

    A video still shows the moment the Carbondale Police officer used force.

By Geoff Ritter
updated: 10/15/2021 9:19 AM

Tensions have grown in the three weeks since an arresting Carbondale Police officer used force against his suspect, a local teenage girl, in an incident partially captured on video and spread on social media.

At Tuesday's meeting of the city council, members of the public questioned the judgment of the officer, who is shown in a brief video using force to subdue the girl to the ground during the Sept. 23 incident outside Casey's General Store on Giant City Road. The incident received more attention once the video of the arrest surfaced on social media last week.

According to police, the officer was responding to a complaint from a nearby business where the girl reportedly had been banned.

Video shows the end of the encounter as the officer, who is white, tries to take the girl, who is black, into custody. She resists his attempts to get her to stop moving and repeatedly calls him racist. As she and nearby onlookers grow louder, the officer uses force to take her to the ground.

Police say that after the girl was in custody, she allegedly attacked officers. Ultimately, she was released to a parent. The case is being reviewed by the Jackson County State's Attorney's Office. Potential charges include trespassing, resisting a peace officer and aggravated battery to a police officer.

Jess Jobe, speaking Tuesday on behalf of the Carbondale Racial Justice Coalition, told the council that police conduct during this and other recent incidents has been "heavy-handed," and only serves to destroy public confidence and trust in the police department.

"There is a difference between what is allowable and what is acceptable or most helpful," Jobe said.

Flora Broadnax, who said she is the girl's grandmother, said the incident will have "lasting consequences."

"We are looking to the city, to the mayor, to everyone on the council, to all leaders ... to make sure that justice is done and that the officer is held accountable for what he did," she said.

Councilwoman Ginger Rye-Sanders said the incident prompted her to ask more questions, and she found that several complaints have been lodged against the officer over the past two years.

She called for the officer to be placed on leave.

"There is a pattern of misconduct behavior with this officer, and this behavior is a threat to the community and the citizens of the community," she said.

Carbondale Police Chief Stan Reno said he was limited in what he could say about the case because it involved a juvenile. He verified that the officer's work status at the department has not changed.

"Our Department is conducting an internal investigation that is currently ongoing," Reno said.

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