The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon has responded after a woman filed a lawsuit accusing several deputies of manhandling her 12-year-old son.

The boy of African-American origin was allegedly pinned to the ground while one of the deputies with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office pressed a knee on his neck. The mother of Ka’Mar Benbo has filed a $300,000 lawsuit Wednesday (June 17). The defendants in the case were identified as Tyler Simpkins, Rob Watts, Thomas Broomfield, Clint Pierce, and Angela Church.

The mother said in the lawsuit that the incident occurred outside a suburban mall in Portland when the boy was walking away after he witnessed a fight in August 2019.

According to the reports, Benbo and his friends, who were with him at the time, repeatedly pleaded to the deputies saying that he was just 12, but they continued to manhandle him. The boy is now 13.

Sheriff Craig Roberts, responding to this incident and the pending lawsuit, put out an official statement Thursday, saying, “ I can only imagine the fear a parent has for their child of color engaging with police. I know that there is nothing I can say to make their worry go away. What I can say is: I will do my part to make sure that we use appropriate force and that every use of force continues to be reviewed by my agency.”

Sharing details about the incident, the sheriff said that the deputies responded to a mall after the security reported a fight involving a large group of juveniles in progress “following and physically assaulting a female juvenile.”

When the responding deputies asked the children to remain in the mall parking lot to investigate the alleged assault, all except one boy refused to comply.

"He pulled away from deputies. They briefly placed him on the grass and then in handcuffs. He was questioned and released to his guardian," Roberts said in the statement.

The very next day on Aug. 6, the child’s mother filed a complaint regarding the incident. “Our Professional Standards Unit (PSU) immediately started an investigation. This involved an extensive review of reports, video and photographs from the scene, and interviews with witnesses and deputies,” the sheriff said.

According to the sheriff, the PSU did not find any evidence that the deputy placed his knee on the boy’s neck.

In a letter to Benbo’s guardian, Roberts wrote at the time that “based on the available evidence and totality of circumstances, the investigation has determined potential violations have received a disposition of ‘Exonerated.’”

“Exonerated means the member’s conduct was lawful and proper,” Roberts added in the letter.

However, Benbo’s attorney, in the lawsuit, said that some witnesses reported seeing the deputy arriving at the scene. He was then seen exiting the vehicle and hitting the boy with what appeared to be a baton. It is not clear which deputy they were referring to.

“One officer elbowed [Benbo] in the face, officers force [Benbo] face-first to the ground, and several officers held [Benbo] with one officer putting his knee on [Benbo’s] neck using his weight to pin the child to the ground,” the lawsuit stated. “The pressure made it difficult for Ka’Mar to breathe.”

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Chris Owen, a spokesman for the Clackamas County District Attorney, said the prosecutors have not received any documents relating to the incident.

“If we get presented the necessary information, we will certainly evaluate it,” Owen told the Associated Press.

Roberts concluded his statement saying, “We do not train deputies to restrict a person’s airway or impede their ability to breathe. It was determined the involved deputies followed training and policy,” he said.

The incident comes into light less than a month after the death of George Floyd, who lost life after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck during an arrest.