Video catches officials mistreating patients
PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. (WSVN) -- Surveillance video at a mental hospital caught a 14-year-old girl being punched and pepper-sprayed by police.
The incident took place at the Citrus Center for Adolescent Treatment Services, a 28-bed facility that houses young girls with severe emotional, psychological and behavioral issues.
Gordon Weekes, a Chief Assistant Public Defender, saw the video when he was assigned to the 14-year-old girl. "They're not safe," Weekes said. "Look at the size of this guy. Look at the size of his arms. Look how big he is."
The young girl was charged with a crime as a result of this altercation, but Weekes said the video shows the girl being punched in the face by a Pembroke Pines police officer and pepper-sprayed by another. "This is an instance of abuse," said Weekes. "The officer grabs her. She swats him off not recognizing who he was or 'why is an officer grabbing me.'"
Weekes continued into the investigation and has since learned more about the facility, not shown in the video. "Tying the young ladies down by their hands and by their feet and then injecting them with a chemical substance that gives them somewhat of a euphoric high before they're knocked out," Weekes said.
Weekes has since written the following letter to the Department of Children and Families: "Young girls at this facility are routinely injected with a substance that often renders them unconscious and unable to recall events that transpired during the period of restraint. The practice of subduing minor girls with chemical restraints is so common and pervasive that the patients in the facility have dubbed it 'Booty-Juice.'"
The Department of Children and Families responded with the following statement, "DCF takes all allegations of abuse very seriously and has launched an investigation to determine if abuse has occurred. The investigation is open," said Southeast Communications Director Paige Patterson-Hughes.
Weekes is demanding an investigation to clear his client of any wrong-doing and the facility closely examined.
Pembroke Pines Police said the officer seen hitting the girl in the video has not been suspended and acted according to procedure. Meanwhile, DCF said, the department will be working with the Broward Sheriff's Office and the agency for healthcare administration to get to the bottom of these allegations.
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