Arlington PD denies offering mother of arrested teens concessions for video

The Department released an updated statement Friday in response to a video that has sparked outrage

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The Arlington Police Department denies that it offered to drop charges against two teenagers in exchange for a cell phone video of their arrest recorded by their mother.

Latasha Nelson was recording with her phone when her 14-year-old son was driven away in a police car on July 3 for allegedly burglarizing a vehicle with another teen.

What starts as an apparently calm interaction quickly escalates when one of the responding officers refuses to tell her where her son is being taken.

Things escalate further when, minutes later, the same officer takes her 16-year-old son to the ground for allegedly interfering with the investigation.

Nelson, a single mother of five, claims her 16-year-old son was standing by her side trying to calm her down when the officer grabbed him and forced him to the ground “for no apparent reason.”

The Department hasn’t commented specifically on the circumstances of the takedown, and none of the released videos captured what happened prior to it. The 16-year-old was arrested and charged with interference.

Both teens were reportedly released from custody approximately eight hours after they were detained.

At a press conference Thursday, a lawyer representing the family claimed investigators offered to drop the charges against both teens if she turned over the cell phone video.

But in a prepared statement released late Friday afternoon, the Department said its preliminary investigation “has not produced facts” in support of Nelson’s claim. They further state that in her misconduct complaint filed with Internal Affairs on July 11, she did not reference the alleged interactions.

Another sticking point of the incident is that officers confiscated Nelson’s phone, which she believes wasn’t justified. Her lawyer is demanding the Department return the phone.

The phone was reportedly confiscated as “evidence,” according to the Department’s statement.

“Officers believed the phone contained recorded video of the events immediately preceding one of the individual’s being placed in handcuffs,” the Department’s statement said.

Concern was expressed during Thursday’s press conference that Nelson wasn’t properly notified of her son’s arrest, an apparent requirement when taking juveniles into custody.

Internal Affairs is investigating whether proper notification was made at another time during the call, adding that no notification was captured on video.

“Anytime a department responds to concerns related to juveniles, the communication process can be challenged by the constraints imposed by privacy laws designed to protect the identities of juveniles and to promote confidentiality concerning criminal conduct that may be alleged to have been committed,” Police Chief Will Johnson is quoted in the statement. “We understand that there are many stakeholders involved in this process and will work to preserve the privacy and protection of the family and due process rights for all involved.”

Johnson reportedly met with Nelson and her lawyer on Friday to answer and address their questions and concerns.

The incident is still under investigation.

Nelson’s lawyer is demanding the offending officer be terminated and charged with “official oppression.” She further described the takedown of Nelson’s son as evidence of “police brutality” against the black community.

Friday evening, a crowd-funding campaign appeared online claiming Nelson is being “wrongfully evicted” from her Southwest Arlington apartment as a result of her sons’ arrests. The campaign is asking for $10,000.