WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David shed new light onto a case where the State Bureau of Investigation is investigating Wilmington Police Officer's use of force during an arrest.
David said 16-year-old Tyrell Rivers was arrested for resisting arrest, felony possession of heroin, misdemeanor marijuana possession, trespassing, and possession of drug paraphernalia on April 4 in the Jervay Community. During the arrest, a camera inside the police cruiser captured the use of force under review.
After seeing the video, David said he, "contacted the SBI immediately." The content of the video has not been released, because it is evidence in the ongoing investigation.
Wilmington Police confirmed Cpl. James C. Johnson has been on administrative leave with pay since May 14. He is currently the only police officer on leave.
David said Rivers is being treated as a witness and victim of a possible assault by an officer in this case.
The video at the center of this investigation surfaced after an audit by the Wilmington Police Department. David said technology speaks for itself in a case like this.
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous announced Wednesday that an officer was suspended weeks ago while the department investigates a potential use of excessive force incident.
Evangelous did not name the officer under investigation in the hastily called news conference. The chief said he announced this Wednesday after inquiries into the incident from media outlets, including WECT, which have been investigating these claims for days.
Evangelous would not say what the incident was except it was "an arrest situation." The investigation began May 14 and the officer is on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.
Lytonya Austin, who says she's the mother of Tyrell Rivers, spoke about the incident Thursday night.
Rivers was present, but did not speak on-camera. He appeared healthy, calm and collected.
Austin said she first learned of the use of force investigation while watching WECT Thursday night.
"No one at all has contacted me or Tyrell and the only information I got was that I seen it on the news today," said Austin.
Austin said she has not been contacted by the Wilmington Police Department or District Attorney's office regarding the situation. Now she is looking for answers.
"I know nothing of a video. I don't know what the circumstances were. I don't know what's going on. We're just totally lost," elaborated the concerned mother.
Austin said she had not heard about a video containing footage of her son involved in an altercation. Now that she knows a video exists, she said she wants to see it.
"I would like to see the video and see what the situation is with my son to find out exactly what happened or at least so that we know something."
She said she will begin contacting law enforcement for answers immediately.