An upsetting story is unfolding in Florida.
According to the local Miami CBS affiliate, 16-year-old Christopher Walls died in police custody last week after leading law enforcement on a car chase in Hollywood, Florida. Miami-Dade Police Department claimed the boy carjacked a “sports vehicle” and led a 20-mile chase before he “lost control of the vehicle and it careened across a road’s median and into opposing lanes before crashing into a fence.”
While it’s unclear what prompted the alleged crime, witnesses told WPLG that the officers responded with violence after the crash. One anonymous witness said the teen “looked fragile,” and claimed:
“You could see them just kicking him in the head, kicking him in the side, kicking him everywhere and it was just total shock… I thought originally when the car got in the accident, they was going to help this person and not pull him out and beat him. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Per WPLG, paramedics reportedly arrived within five minutes of the crash, checked Walls over, and left him in police custody. According to CBS Miami, he became unconscious soon after and was taken to Hialeah Hospital, where he passed away.
Witness Blas Barrios told WPLG:
“The way they were carrying him, I don’t think they should’ve did it that way because he just came from a car wreck. … I just hope that the truth gets revealed, with what truly happened to that kid.”
On Saturday, Walls’ loved ones gathered to hold a vigil for the deceased teen. Friend Destiny Werby told CBS Miami that the high school football player “was a good person,” adding:
“He could have still been here. It doesn’t matter they didn’t have to do that extra stuff to him at all. It’s sad how they did him.”
Another family member shared:
“You never know when your loved one is leaving. And it is just very shocking because Chris out of all the people, I just never expected anything to happen to him.”
CBS Miami reported that the family is seeking justice for Walls’ death. According to the outlet, “Officers involved in the incident have been placed under administrative leave, pending an investigation.”
While some of the details of this case remain unclear, if the witness reports are true, officers at the scene should absolutely be held accountable for brutalizing a victim of a car crash. No matter what crime Walls may have committed, there is no excuse for committing violence against someone who is already in custody. The fact that he was a minor makes the situation even more upsetting. We hope the family finds the accountability they seek.
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