Video shows D.C. police physically detaining a teenage girl and her younger brother who were selling food on a sidewalk Tuesday.
The video starts after police approached the 15-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy. They admitted they didn’t have a permit to sell food on the street.
The video shows them trying to wrestle themselves away from the officers, who are seen with handcuffs out heard saying, “Put her in handcuffs.”
As one of the officers held the girl, she dropped to the ground and began screaming.
“Don’t pressure me, my knee,” she screamed.
Tears streamed down the boy’s face as he watched.
Throughout the encounter police are heard threatening to handcuff the girl and take the children to the Child and Family Services Agency even after their mother arrived at the scene.
“I was scared, and all I asked was for them to leave us alone, for them to stop treating us like criminals,” the girl said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
She was using crutches.
“We are not criminals," she said. "We do not go and steal and do all this, be in gangs. We go out, sell atole, tacos, chips, mangos to make a living for ourselves.”
She said they have been chased off the street before for the same thing but refused to move Tuesday evening.
“He should really feel ashamed of himself for what he did yesterday to me, because I am just a 15-year-old girl trying to work for money,” she said.
They were taken to Children’s National Hospital. Police followed the ambulance to the hospital and continued to threaten to separate the children from their mother, the family said.
Typically, vending without a permit carries a $300 fine, but the family said it was afraid to give the officers identifying information.
The children were not charged with a crime.
“We have no place on our force for officers who don’t follow the rules, and that is what we will be investigating, and all appropriate action will be taken,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
"MPD is aware of the incident," a police spokesperson told News4 in an email. "This is currently an ongoing investigation as we review footage to learn more about the incident."
All of the officers remain on full-duty status, police said.
The family said they’re unable to get permits, because the city no longer offers them.
Bowser said it's a balancing act between traditional brick and mortar stores and the right number of street vendors.