The family of a 14-year-old boy who was allegedly pinned down by an off-duty Chicago Police officer in Park Ridge, Illinois, is speaking about the incident that was caught on cellphone camera.
“We see the bias in an off-duty officer taking advantage of our brown boy, with afro hair, smaller in stature, choosing to take the law into his own hands with physical force -- a clear abuse of his position of authority -- the authority meant to PROTECT my son, not harm him,” Angel and Nicole Nieves, parents of the boy, said in a press release sent to ABC News.
On the afternoon of July 1, a man who Park Ridge police have identified as a CPD sergeant in the video put his knee on the teen's back for about 15 seconds, according to cellphone footage taken by a friend of the teen. It is unclear what happened before the video was captured on camera but the family's legal team says the teen was just trying to move the bike out of his way.
Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski told ABC News that the officer believed the teen had stolen his son's bike. The bike was apparently stolen from a local library before the incident, according to police.
Kaminski confirmed that the teen had a bike of his own. He also said that officials now have images of the person who did steal the bike, saying that it was likely abandoned by the culprit where the incident between the teen and officer occurred.
The Nieves' legal team said that the teen had touched the bike because it was on the sidewalk and he was trying to pass by it with his own bike.
The family's legal team also said the teen will remain unnamed. Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, a national personal injury firm primarily based in Chicago, is representing the family for any potential litigation.
The teen's friends kept telling the officer to get off the boy and helped him up from the ground, according to the footage.
Chicago Police told ABC News that there is an internal investigation concerning the incident and officials cannot comment further. The officer’s name has not been released. The police union has not responded to ABC News' requests for comment.
The boy’s parents are calling for accountability from the officer, including releasing the officer’s name and filing criminal charges for his conduct involving a child.
The Nieves family says their son is a straight-A student, a three-sport athlete and is active in his church youth ministry.
“It’s ironic that the type of person we are raising our boys to be -- thoughtful, respectful young men who are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger -- is the opposite of the example this Chicago police officer set,” they said.
According to WLS, the Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability is also investigating the incident. The Park Ridge police are also investigating alongside the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, according to WLS.
Neither agency has responded to ABC News' requests for comment.
“The off-duty officer used excessive force on a child and escalated the situation where this type of aggression was clearly not necessary,” said Bhavani K. Raveendran, an attorney at Romanucci & Blandin.