Officer on desk duty, concerns raised after video shows violent encounter with teen

A Wichita police officer is on administrative duty and two teens were arrested over the weekend following a violent, New Year’s Eve incident captured on video.
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 8:05 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A Wichita police officer is on administrative duty and two teens were arrested over the weekend following a violent, New Year’s Eve incident captured on video that circulated on social media. Police said a teenage boy struck an off-duty police officer working security at a south Wichita skating rink in the back of the head, which led to an altercation between the teen and the officer.

The Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement Tuesday, saying in part, “It is critically important that the police department have the complete context and faces of the incident before issuing judgment.” The police union also said, “We would hope that the mayor would agree that a brief snippet of the video does not provide the full context of the incident.”

Tuesday, the first Wichita City Council meeting of the year began with public comment from people concerned about the violent encounter caught on camera at the Roller City skating rink in south Wichita. Cell phone video captured the incident between the off-duty Wichita Police Department Officer, working security, and a 16-year-old boy.

“Right now, I think we’re all a little shocked with the video footage and we want to create a space where people can come to City Hall, talk to their elected leaders and tell us their reaction, how they feel about this, to possibly take any action, if needed,” Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said.

The viral video doesn’t show what happened before the altercation. Police said the incident began with a 15-year-old girl who refused to leave. The 16-year-old boy accused of striking the officer and the 15-year-old girl were arrested.

“The juvenile female that was arrested got into some type of disturbance with employees of the venue and then they asked her to leave,” WPD Chief Joe Sullivan said.

The 16-year-old was booked on one count of battery of a law-enforcement officer and two counts of obstruction. The girl also was booked for assault, battery of a law enforcement officer and an ordinance violation for aggressive and harassing contact. The WPD said the officer has been with the department for seven years. He’s on administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.

Police are still requesting additional video of what happened prior to the altercation but some community members who addressed the Wichita City Council Tuesday said they want something better to come out of what happened.

“We just have to do better as a community, from the top to the bottom, from training our law enforcement to giving our youth the resources and building that bridge to where youth and law enforcement can have positive interactions without it leading to what we’re seeing in those videos,” Wichita resident Desmond Bryant said.

Also addressing the city council about the New Year’s Eve incident, Wichita resident Marquetta Atkins-Woods discussed the responsibilities of adults in the community.

“As adults, we have a responsibility to deescalate a situation, especially when it comes to young people. So, my hope is that we have the conversation, ‘what could we have done better so that it did not result in a physical confrontation with young people, with kids?’” Atkins-Woods said.

The WPD’s Investigations Unit and Professional Standards Bureau review all officer use-of-force incidents involving the department. Anyone with a firsthand account or video from what happened on the night of Dec. 31 at Roller City can submit the evidence or information to the See Something Say Something hotline at 316-519-2282.