An Alabama high school student is accusing a cop of excessive force, saying he used pepper spray on him without cause at a recent football game — and he thinks a video might prove it.
"I had my back to this officer talking to a girl who was standing behind me," 17-year-old Cameron Rader, a Prattville High School student, told the Montgomery Advertiser, noting that the officer was keeping students away from the railing at the time, which the teen claims he wasn't standing by. "The cop yells at me — 'Hey son' — and tells me, 'Push me one more time.' I told him I didn't push him, and he, like, freaked out."
Video of the incident starts up with Prattville students celebrating their lead over Central-Phenix City High School. Then, Rader was pushed forward by an officer.
That's when Rader says the cop sprayed mace into his face.
Watch the footage (Note: the scuffle starts around 38 seconds into the video):
"I was telling him to get his hands off me, to stop touching me, and then I asked what I did," Rader told the newspaper. "You can see that on the video. I have my hands by my side. I'm being compliant and he keeps pushing me. That's when he maces me. I couldn't breathe. It was in my throat and nose and the fumes were burning my eyes. And it hurt for a long time."
After that, Rader said the cop led him out to the parking lot where there were other officers. The teen said the cop then told his colleagues "that he could see me out of the corner of his eye and that I nudged him — those were his exact words."
"I did not touch him. It's completely untrue," Rader told the Montgomery Advertiser.
Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith told WSFA-TV that the video actually reveals the teen having his hand "underneath the arm of the officer as he is pushing the officer into the rail and the officer's hand is going up."
Rader was not arrested and did not receive any charges, because the school's principal Richard Dennis stepped in, the boy's father told the newspaper. Mark Rader said he spoke with the principal who said "from what he knew of the incident [...] Cameron had done nothing wrong," the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Rader's family hired a lawyer who is pursuing a formal investigation of the video and is filing a complaint over the alleged excessive use of force.
"For [the officer] to feel like he had to use mace, there had to be some type of criminal offense that had been committed for him to be able to do that, and obviously there was absolutely nothing that was criminal on the part of anybody in those stands," attorney Michael Kidd told WSFA. "No one we've spoken to has said that Cameron did anything that they would've deemed to be inappropriate. With an officer at that point to be able to detain him and take him into custody as he did, using force to do that, he would've had to have some legal authority to do that. And without Cameron breaking any law, he doesn't have any authority to do that,"