The Pima County Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday, that the Pima County deputy who was caught on camera tackling a teenage quadruple amputee will not face charges of excessive force.
A letter released by the office on Tuesday said it would not file criminal charges against Deputy Manuel Van Santen, who was seen in a video tackling and restraining a 15-year-old boy who has no arms or legs.
In the letter, the attorney’s office stated that it could not definitively answer whether or not Van Santen’s use of force was necessary.
“In order to pursue criminal charges, the state must have not just probable cause, but a reasonable likelihood of proving to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the physical force used was not immediately necessary to prevent (Immanuel) from leaving the kitchen and again threatening the employee,” according to the letter, which was signed by Nicol R. Green, chief trial counsel for the office.
According to the letter, the incident took place after an employee at the group home called 911 and told them Immanuel had been yelling and threatening her. The employee also said Immanuel threw a trash can and then threatened to throw her.
A video of the incident that was recorded by another teenager at the group home where the encounter took place, went viral after it was released in November. Van Santen was placed on administrative leave while the incident was investigated.
Prosecutors reviewed the video, the 911 call, police reports, photos and witness statements to decide whether to charge Van Santen with a criminal offense, according to the letter.
The county attorney’s office also reviewed Van Santen’s use of force while he and another deputy arrested another teen for interfering with his initial arrest, the letter said.
During that arrest, Van Santen used his forearm to push the teen’s neck against the wall, the letter said.
According to the letter, both Deputy Van Santen and Deputy Joseph Knipp, who later arrived on the scene, said the teen was resisting arrest.
“Even assuming both deputies are accurately describing S.S.’s (the other teen) resistance, the force used to push S.S. against the wall by Deputy Van Santen may have been excessive under the circumstances,” the letter said.
“However, 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,” it continues.
In both arrests, the county attorney’s office concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to meet the high burden of proof required in a jury trial.
Van Santen will remain on administrative leave while the department conducts an internal administrative investigation, which was launched Tuesday, said Sheriff Mark Napier.