Sheriff's office seeks witnesses to NYE altercation between officer, teens at Roller City
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) — The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office is investigating an altercation between two teenagers and an off-duty Wichita police officer at a roller skating rink on New Year's Eve.
Sheriff's office spokesperson Benjamin Blick said Thursday that leaders with the Wichita Police Department requested assistance with the investigation to avoid any perceived conflict.
Wichita police said officers working an off-duty job at Roller City at 3234 South Meridian were asked by management to remove a 15-year-old girl from the property for threatening staff. She reportedly refused and tried to hit an officer but missed. That's when WPD said a 16-year-old boy got involved, hitting a second officer in the back of the head.
Video from Saturday's incident shows part of the clash between a 16-year-old boy and an off-duty police officer. After seeing the video, community leaders are asking for the charges against the two teens to be dropped and for that officer to be fired.
“When I saw a grown trained armed man with 100 pounds on that kid posture up and try to kill him with a punch like that. I know that this could have been a lot worse. He didn't deserve to be thrown into a wall, slammed to the ground and have someone sit on his back, and then handcuffed,” said Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 released a statement saying the FOP was disappointed my the mayor's statements.
"We would hope the Mayor who is tasked with leading the city would not make reckless statements without knowing all the facts and context," the statement said. "This only causes more division within the community."
Lt. Blick with the sheriff's office said that after a preliminary review of the evidence, including a phone recording, investigators determined several witnesses didn’t provide a statement to law enforcement. Anyone who witnesses the incident or knows someone who does is asked to contact the sheriff's office at (316) 660-5300.
Two teenagers were arrested Saturday after an altercation with off-duty police officers with the Wichita Police Department and taken to the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center.
According to the WPD, officers working an off-duty job at a business in the 3200 block of S. Meridian were asked by management to remove a disruptive teenager. This happened just before 7:00 p.m.
“All the resources of this department are being deployed right now to do everything we can to gather all the facts, interview every possible witness, to gather any type of video, any type of evidence," Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said.
Management reported a 15-year-old girl was upset and threatening an employee.
As an officer tried to take her into custody, a physical altercation took place. During the altercation, as another officer tried to take the girl into custody, a 16-year-old boy intervened and struck the second officer in the back of the head, according to the WPD. The officer then tried to take the 16-year-old into custody, which resulted in another physical altercation. At that point, officers requested additional patrol units to respond to the situation.
“Anytime someone's resisting a lawful arrest, officers have the right to use an appropriate level force commensurate with the level of resistance," Sullivan said.
The girl and boy were both taken into custody and transported to JIAC.
The teen girl was booked on suspicion of one count of assault, one count of battery of a law enforcement officer, and one ordinance violation for aggressive and harassing contact.
The boy was booked on suspicion of one count of battery of a law enforcement officer and two counts of obstruction.
“One officer did not have a body-worn camera because this was an off-duty assignment, and the other officer - there is some body-worn camera, but it begins after the confrontation took place,” Sullivan said.
If you would like to share information about this case, call Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111 or the "See Something, Say Something" hotline at 316-519-2282.
“As the police chief of the City of Wichita, I will hold officers accountable if anyone has acted outside of the policies of this department," Sullivan said.