SAPD Justifies Cop Punching a 14-year-old Girl

Officer Gary Tuli can be seen hitting the girl in a YouTube video of the incident. - Screenshot from YouTube video
Screenshot from YouTube video
Officer Gary Tuli can be seen hitting the girl in a YouTube video of the incident.

While the "she hit me first" argument is typically reserved for squabbling siblings, the San Antonio Police Department determined on Monday it was a justifiable enough excuse for a much older, much larger man to punch an unarmed 14-year-old girl at her friend's quinceañera.

According to the use-of-force report first obtained by San Antonio Express-News, Officer Gary Tuli’s supervisor determined he “didn’t break department policies” when he punched the girl in the face or “need additional training” after the incident. SAPD alleges the girl hit the officer first, making it okay for the officer to respond with a fist to the face.

Tuli punched the 14-year-old in the parking lot of the Crown Palace Event Center on May 21. Police were initially called to the quinceañera after a fight allegedly broke out between two men, but things escalated quickly during the incident, which was captured on video.

April Johnson, the girl’s mother, previously told the Current she had heard Tuli saying he hit her daughter because “she punched him in the face.”

A video of the incident shows the officer punching the girl forcefully, her head and neck flying backwards as she stumbles into a group of people standing behind her. Tuli and two other officers begin restraining the girl and dragging her away from the group.

The girl’s mother, April Johnson, can be heard crying out “No!” repeatedly, while being held back by police officers as she watched them restrain her daughter.

The video of the officer punching the girl drew the ire of local activists when it went viral, and it has been viewed almost 290,000 times on YouTube.

Johnson told the Current her daughter had been diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury and trauma to her face and neck muscles, but the police report contradicts this, saying the girl did not sustain any injuries. The report also says the officer had a bruise or abrasion from the girl allegedly hitting him.

Coincidentally, on the same day the use-of-force report was released, a former Bexar county deputy was arrested for assaulting an inmate with “no justification to use force.”

The girl was arrested and taken to juvenile lockup that night on the felony charge of assaulting a public servant. She has not been convicted.

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