Flavored Cigar Leads Now-Reassigned Rancho Cordova Cop to Brutalize Teen; Viral Video Seen by Millions, Including Celebs, Politicians

Rancho Cordova cop beats 14-year-old for having flavored cigar.

By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO – A small flavored cigar. That’s what 14-year-old Elijah Tufono allegedly had been given by an adult Monday, and it led to his vicious beating by a police officer.

But, a video shot by witnesses has gone viral, and has been viewed by more than seven million people worldwide, including celebrities and politicians.

Family and friends of a skinny 14-year-old boy – punched and thrown around like a rag doll Monday by a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy working for the Rancho Cordova Police Dept. – spoke to the press Wednesday night for the first time.

But not just family and friends expressed outrage at officer Brian Fowell’s apparent mistreatment of 14-year-old Elijah Tufono.

“Seinfeld” and “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Julian Castro, a former 2020 Democratic candidate for president, were among those commenting about the video.

“God, almighty. End this violence,” said the actress. And Castro, a former Obama cabinet secretary, tweeted: “How many of these videos must we see before we do something about police violence in this country?”

Meanwhile, police use-of-force experts and law enforcement attempted – as they always seem to do when police use excessive force on unarmed people, especially those of color– to justify what appears to the naked eye to be a brutalization of a child.

Black Lives Matter Sacramento founder Tanya Faison said, “The officer punched the child in the face and the chest, twisted his arms and jammed his face into the curb by pushing his head down by the neck.”

According to a BLM Facebook post: “There is not one reason that validates a full size armed man, to sit on, punch, and try and break the arms of a child. Watching him push his head on the curb by his neck was traumatizing for me. Can’t imagine how this child feels right now.”

The Rancho Cordova Police Dept. announced that the officer had been “reassigned” outside the police dept., suggesting he may be back with the county Sheriff’s Dept, which has a contract with Rancho Cordova to provide officers.

Adante Pointer, an attorney with the John Burris civil rights law firm, criticized the officer Wednesday night.

“This was an opportunity for the officer to actually build community relations in dealing with the young man, and instead I’m certain he’s left a mark on this young man’s spirit and soul and brain that will live with him the rest of his life,” he said, telling media:

“The fact that they want to have a face-to-face now kind of rings hollow. They should have been doing that when they had to call home to tell this boy’s family the way this officer treated their young man.”

The video shows the officer clearly punching the frail-looking child, and slamming his head into the cement so hard the boy cries out. Family members said the teen has a heart condition since birth and was not resisting.

Elizabeth Kim, president of the National Lawyers Guild Sacramento Chapter, commented:

“The actions captured on video of the Rancho Cordova police officer against the 14 year old unarmed child are absolutely excessive, unnecessary force. This blatant assault on a child is sickening and must not be allowed to continue. The National Lawyers Guild will closely monitor this case and ensure that all legal measures will be taken to bring an end to this abject assault on members of our community.”

And, the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) issued the following statement:

“The video of the Rancho Cordova police officer repeatedly hitting and slapping a much smaller unarmed 14 year-old boy is disturbing to us as parents and frustrating to us as lawmakers. Over the last few years, the Legislature has made clear their expectations about the appropriate use of force and the need to find alternatives, especially when it comes to unarmed minors.

“Even with the information provided in the Rancho Cordova Police Department’s statement, this use of force is in no way proportional to the suspected crime or justified by the actions of the child. We will monitor this situation closely and expect that the officer will be held accountable for the abusive actions taken in the name of public safety.”

BLM Sacramento announced the following demands for Rancho Cordova Police Department:

• We demand all audio and video of the incident that took place on April 27th, 2020 be released publicly in accordance with AB 748 that went into effect on July 1, 2019.

• We demand that officer Brian Fowell be fired immediately for using excessive force on a minor.

• We demand that officer Fowell be charged with child abuse, physical assault of a minor, and child endangerment.

• We demand, in order to further protect the community from actions like these, that this officer be placed on unpaid leave pending any investigation and that he remain on unpaid leave until he is terminated.

• We demand that the Rancho Cordova Police Department stop terrorizing children including, but not limited to, harassment, excessive force, and physical abuse. Officers found to have engaged in abusive behavior toward community members, should be immediately removed and barred from any further engagement, as an officer.

• We demand that the Rancho Cordova Police Department remain professional with the community that they serve at all times. A skilled officer of the law has no reason to use methods such as punching, twisting limbs, and holding a child by the neck…as a form of restraint. especially on a child who is unarmed and whose size poses no threat to the officer.

• Lastly, we demand that all mental health services needed by this boy and his family, be paid for by the Rancho Cordova police department for the abuse that was sustained by officer Brian Fowell… and to help mitigate the lifelong impact that this abuse and assault will have on this boy and his family for the rest of their lives.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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