The mother of a teenage boy who was seen in a viral video being struck by police with a wand, and ultimately detained for about an hour, said yesterday she initially sided with police who told her her son was being “disorderly” and “disrespectful”.
However, video of the incident, which took place in the parking lot of The Mall at Marathon around 3:30 p.m. last Friday, sparked public outcry, with many accusing the officer of police brutality.
In the video, an officer on a golf cart tells 15-year-old Wellington Walkes to “go to the bus stop and go home”.
The teenager, a student at C.V. Bethel Senior High School, replies, saying he just “reached and was going to get something to eat”.
The officer reacted by jumping out of the golf cart, hitting the teen with his wand in his back, and pushing him by his shoulder while asking “who you talking to like that” and if he is stupid.
The officer in question, and another officer with him, grab the teen and push him up against the golf cart.
According to the teen, he and his 10-year-old sister were then taken to the police station at The Mall at Marathon.
Walkes claimed other officers taunted and threatened him and continued to accuse him of being disrespectful.
His mother, Natasha Hartley, was called to pick him up.
“They made me feel like I was a convicted felon or something,” Walkes said.
Hartley admitted that she initially believed police and chastised her son.
“They called me and said he was being disorderly,” Hartley told The Nassau Guardian during an interview at her Nassau Village home last night.
“I tried my best to quickly get out there.”
She said after leaving the police station and questioning her son about the police’s claims, she realized that there may be more to the story.
“I really realized he wasn’t lying when he burst down in tears, actually crying. It was like wow,” she said.
Then she saw the video circulating online.
“The officer that’s supposed to be protecting [my son] is doing this to [him]?”
“I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think he deserved what he got. You are supposed to be protecting the child, and he is a minor.”
“I just want justice to be done fairly. I don’t think it was justice what was done to him.”
Both the teen and his mother are relieved that the incident was captured on video.
Hartley thinks without the video “nothing would have come out of it, and it would have been swept under the rug”.
The teen and his parents have hired attorney Christina Galanos to represent them.
Hartley and Walkes filed a complaint at the Royal Bahamas Police Force Complaints and Corruption unit.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force released a statement acknowledging that it is aware of “a video being circulated on social media involving a student and two police officers”.
“The organization is concerned [about] the behavior displayed by the officers involved and has subsequently launched an extensive investigation into the matter,” the police statement said.
Walkes said he enjoys playing basketball and video games. He said despite police claims that he was disrespectful, he knows the importance of good manners.
“If I’m walking past someone, even if I don’t know them, or they are younger than me, I say good morning, good afternoon, good night,” he said.
“More than likely they thought I was coming there to cause problems. That’s the only explanation I can really find because then again I go to C.V. Bethel, and I ended up there. But it was already after 3:30. As soon as school was out, I got dropped straight there.”
Hartley said she taught her son “to respect people and try to stay out of problems”.
“Especially as a young guy, young men are always being picked on. [I tell him] try not to be in the mix, not to say you are better than anybody, but try not to get mixed up,” she said.