An African-American teenager is accusing Miami police of brutality after being pushed to the ground and placed in a chokehold. Fourteen-year-old Tremaine McMillian was carrying his young puppy when a Miami-Dade police officer confronted him. Police say Tremaine appeared to be a threat because he gave the officer “dehumanizing stares.” The officer pushed McMillian to the ground and held him there in a chokehold. Speaking to CBS Miami, Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta tried to justify the incident by saying even though he tried to walk away, McMillian was accosted because his “body language” amounted to a threat.
Alvaro Zabaleta: “Once he’s approaching the roadway, they grab him. And then once his body language of stiffening up, closing the fists, flaring his hands, trying to pull away — well, now you’re resisting an officer at that point. Of course, we have to neutralize a threat in front of us. And when you have somebody that is being resistant, somebody that is pulling away from you, somebody that’s clenching their fists, somebody that’s flaring their arms, that’s the immediate threat. At this point, we’re not dealing or concerned with the puppy; what we’re concerned about is the immediate threat towards the officer.”
McMillian says he was feeding his puppy with a bottle when the police attacked him. The puppy suffered an injury to his left paw.