LEWISTON — A 14-year-old Lewiston girl and her mother are calling her Monday evening arrest in Kennedy Park a case of excessive force on the part of the Lewiston Police Department.
Police, on the other hand, contend that no excessive force was used and that the two females were arrested for refusing to leave when asked to do so after reports of a large crowd and possible fight at the park.
"It was definitely excessive. I'm not saying she's innocent, but she's a minor," said Michelle Rivera, mother of 14-year-old Deyaneira Santiago, who was charged Monday with criminal trespass after refusing to leave the park when ordered to by officers. "We're talking two grown men hitting two teens, and girls at that."
Santiago said she and another girl went to the park after an argument with a boy at the Lewiston Public Library got out of hand and the group was told to "take it outside." The Lewiston High School freshman said that she and her friend went to the park and that the boy went to get two other girls to fight them.
Santiago said that an argument ensued at that park, but that the incident never got physical. She said that the responding officers, Brian Rose and Cpl. Timothy Darnell, told the crowd of teens to disperse and that they were shutting down the park.
Santiago said that her friend started arguing with the officers, telling them that they couldn't shut down the park. At that point, Santiago said the officers got physical with her friend, putting her in a choke hold and tackling her to the hood of the car.
After her friend by arrested and placed in the back of a cruiser, Santiago admits that she told the officers she wasn't leaving without her friend and that they would have to arrest her, too, or let her friend go. She said that the officers then got physical with her, leaving marks on her neck and back and hurting her hand.
Other friends who were at the park ran to get the two girls' mothers.
Rivera said she was taking her daughter to the hospital Monday night because she feared that one of her fingers might be broken.
Lt. Mark Watson of the Lewiston Police Department said that neither girl was charged with resisting arrest and he did not believe that the officers used excessive force.
"The officers made the arrests. One of the mothers even thanked the officer for the arrest and the girl apologized and shook the officer's hand," Watson said.