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No charges for Arizona deputy who restrained teen amputee

March 11, 2020 GMT
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FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Pima County Sheriff's Department shows Deputy Manuel Van Santen. Prosecutors will not seek criminal charges against Deputy Van Santen, seen on video tackling a teenage quadruple amputee at a Tucson-area group home. In a letter Tuesday, March 10, 2020, the Pima County Attorney's Office could not prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Deputy Manuel Van Santen's use of force on a 15-year-old boy was unnecessary. In September, a group home worker called 911 to report the teen had knocked over a trash can and made verbal threats. Another teen used his cellphone to film part of Van Santen's interaction with the boy, who has no arms or legs. (AP Photo provided by Pima County Sheriff's Department, File)
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FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Pima County Sheriff's Department shows Deputy Manuel Van Santen. Prosecutors will not seek criminal charges against Deputy Van Santen, seen on video tackling a teenage quadruple amputee at a Tucson-area group home. In a letter Tuesday, March 10, 2020, the Pima County Attorney's Office could not prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Deputy Manuel Van Santen's use of force on a 15-year-old boy was unnecessary. In September, a group home worker called 911 to report the teen had knocked over a trash can and made verbal threats. Another teen used his cellphone to film part of Van Santen's interaction with the boy, who has no arms or legs. (AP Photo provided by Pima County Sheriff's Department, File)

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A Pima County sheriff’s deputy seen on video tackling a teenage quadruple amputee at a Tucson-area group home last year will not face charges, prosecutors said.

The Pima County Attorney’s Office could not prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Deputy Manuel Van Santen’s use of force on a 15-year-old boy was unnecessary, Nicol Green, the office’s chief trial counsel, said in a letter Tuesday.

“The mere possibility that the level of force used was excessive is not a sufficient basis upon which to file criminal charges against the deputy,” Green wrote.

Deputies went to the group home in September after a worker called 911 to report the teen had knocked over a trash can and made verbal threats. Another teen used his cellphone to film part of Van Santen’s interaction with the boy, who has no arms or legs.

The start of the eight-minute video shows the deputy tussling on the kitchen floor with the boy, who is screaming and cursing. The deputy then uses his body to pin the teen on his side. After about two minutes, the officer gets up. He then talks to the teen, telling him to “shut the hell up.” He was then arrested on disorderly conduct charges.

The boy did not suffer any physical injuries, according to his attorney, Samuel Jurgena. Jurgena did not immediately return an email seeking comment Wednesday.

Green said the force Van Santen used to push the teen against a wall would have been considered excessive if the teen wasn’t already resisting.

The boy, whose name is being withheld by The Associated Press because of his age, publicly shared the video in November. After it surfaced, Pima County prosecutors dropped the teen’s disorderly conduct charges. Van Santen, an 11-year veteran, was put on administrative leave.

Stephen Portell, an attorney for Van Santen, declined to comment Wednesday because he had not yet spoken with his client. After the video’s release, the deputy issued a statement that he had followed standard training from the sheriff’s office.

“I was there to secure individuals who might be a threat to themselves, the staff and other residents. This was all confirmed upon my arrival and before I entered the building,” Van Santen said.