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Black teen handcuffed in viral video of mall fight speaks out on police treatment

WABC-TV

(BRIDGEWATER, N.J.) — The 14-year-old who was handcuffed by police as they broke up a fight at a New Jersey mall is speaking out about the incident, which prompted an internal investigation over the police’s apparent treatment of the Black teen.

In a viral video of the incident, police are seen responding to a fight between the teen, Kye, and another teenager at the Bridgewater Commons Mall in New Jersey on Feb. 12, but after breaking up the fight, police only handcuffed Kye, who is Black.

Kye, who is only being identified by his first name at the request of his mother, told GMA3 that the experience has been “stressful” for him and he didn’t expect his story to get national attention.

“It’s been kind of weird thinking about, like, how I was treated differently based on the color of my skin,” he said.

The video, which was taken by a bystander, appears to show the two teens arguing and then they begin to throw punches at each other. Kye told New York ABC station WABC that the fight started after the other teen began picking on Kye’s friend and he stood up to him. Shortly after, two Bridgewater Township police officers arrived at the scene and broke up the altercation.

In the video, the female officer sits the other teen who exchanged punches on the sofa and then proceeds to assist the male officer in handcuffing Kye.

The other teenager involved in the fight sat on a couch watching as both police officers put their knees on Kye’s back, the video showed.

Kye said he was held for about 30 minutes and was released without charges.

Ben Crump, the attorney representing Kye’s family, told GMA3 “there’s no question” that this incident is a case of “biased policing.”

“We have ocular proof. I mean, you see it with your own eyes,” Crump said, referring to the video.

The Bridgewater Township Police Department told ABC News in a statement that police have asked the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office to assist in an internal investigation of the incident.

“We recognize that this video has made members of our community upset and are calling for an internal affairs investigation,” police said, urging anyone with additional videos of the incident to share them with law enforcement.

Asked by ABC News if any action has been taken regarding the officers, police did not return a request for comment.

Frank Roman Jr., deputy chief of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, told ABC News in a statement that the incident is being investigated by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Internal Affairs Unit.

Asked if there are any updates, the prosecutor’s office said Monday that the investigation is ongoing.

Kye’s mother, Ebone, told GMA3 that the support her son has gotten from the public has been “awesome,” but “he’s had a really hard time” and is seeking counseling.

“We can’t really get him out the house, we’re worried about, you know, the hate that possibly can come to him,” she said.

Crump said that the family wants the officers to be held accountable.

“If there’s no accountability, there’s no deterrent,” he said. “We can’t have two justice systems in America.”

Asked what he wants to see happen, Kye said that he wants the officers to get fired.

“There’s gonna be some type of change so we aren’t treated differently because of the color of our skin,” he said.

ABC News’ William Gretsky and Ben Stein contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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