A punch that a Pembroke Pines police officer threw at a mentally ill 14-year-old girl in state custody has sparked an investigation of conditions at a local youth psychiatric facility.
During the April 28 incident, partially caught on surveillance video, a police officer punched the girl in the face — after the girl appeared to swing at the officer. Then, another officer pepper sprayed the girl and a third sat on top of her while she had an asthma attack, according to Broward Assistant Public Defender Gordon H. Weekes Jr.
Weekes, who is defending the 14-year-old, also said that staff on an almost daily basis, tied girls’ arms and legs to a cot in an isolated room and injected them with a chemical substance that left them unconscious for hours, Weekes said. They awoke groggy and unable to recall what happened after they were subdued, he said. Sometimes these restraints were applied for speaking too loudly, getting out of a chair too quickly or being confrontational, he said.
“The practice of subduing minor girls with chemical restraints is so common and pervasive that the patients in the facility have dubbed it the ‘booty-juice.’ This mental health facility is simply tying-down and knocking-out little girls who behave in accordance with their mental illness,” Weekes wrote in the letter.
“Most troubling and abhorrent, is the fact that the repeated use of restraining sedation has exacerbated the occurrence of disruptive behavior because it is believed that several girls intentionally engage in misbehavior in order to receive the chemical sedative ‘booty-juice’ so they can get high,” Weekes wrote.
Note: Headline changed. It incorrectly said the facility was licensed by DJJ.