(KTLA) – A teen girl was hospitalized after being thrown to the ground by a sheriff’s deputy during a violent brawl in San Bernardino County, California, Friday night.
Authorities responded to a large fight that erupted during a football game at Victor Valley High School around 6:28 p.m., according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
It all started when the first deputy to arrive discovered multiple fights were taking place at the time. Pepper balls were shot into the crowd in an effort to disperse the group. The move, however, was not effective and the crowds began heading toward the deputy, officials said.
As additional deputies arrived, another pepper ball round was launched at the group. That’s when 16-year-old Faith Jeffers grabbed the pepper ball launcher from the deputy, the sheriff’s department said.
During the struggle, the deputy allegedly picked up Jeffers and body slammed her to the ground, her family said.
That’s when a 16-year-old boy, Anthony Smiler, punched that deputy in the face, authorities said. The boy was eventually subdued and taken into custody.
Jeffers, however, sustained traumatic injuries to her head and spine and is now hospitalized.
“He picked my daughter up and he just tossed her,” said Priscilla Jeffers, the girl’s mother. “He just threw her on the floor with no remorse,” she said tearfully. “She has back injuries from where he threw her forcefully on the asphalt and she has a fractured shoulder and her whole head has bumps and bruises.”
Priscilla Jeffers said her daughter was being bullied by another girl at a different high school. That girl reportedly showed up to the football game to confront her, which led to the altercation.
At first, Priscilla, who was present at the game, didn’t realize her daughter was the one being thrown.
“It looked like he was just tossing a rag or a sweater on the floor until my other daughter said, ‘Mom, that’s Faith!'” she recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Priscilla said the incident was an example of police brutality and wants justice for her daughter.
“We are citizens, we are taxpayers and they’re supposed to protect us,” she said. “Not hurt our kids at all. I think it’s wrong they did that.”
Priscilla said she is planning to take legal action against the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff’s department, however, claims the deputy was the victim, according to a news release.
The mother of the 16-year-old boy said her son is innocent and she remains distraught over the ordeal.
“He attacked my son first,” said Kelani Lynch, Anthony Smiler’s mother. “He was in the wrong and used aggressive force on a 16-year-old. When I called, they told me they couldn’t tell me whether he was booked in there or not so I need to know where my son is.”
For now, Faith’s loved ones remain devastated as the teen remains in the hospital.
“I can’t believe that I let my daughter go to a football game and something like this would happen,” Priscilla said tearfully.
The incident remains under investigation.