A white police officer fired in 2020 after a video of him striking a 14-year-old Black boy went viral has been reinstated.
Rancho Cordova Police Department Deputy Brian Fowell got his job back late last month after being fired in September 2020 for a use-of-force incident, The Sacramento Bee reports. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office terminated Fowell after a professional standards unit investigation concluded he used excessive force against then-14-year-old Elijah Tufono.
The incident was captured in a short cellphone video in April 2020 that became widespread on social media with even then-Sen. and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris labeling it “a horrific abuse of power.”
However, Fowell’s attorney, William Creger, claimed that the “video is not the whole story,” despite playing heavily into his client’s appeal process.
Now, two years after filing an appeal, Fowell has returned to his post as deputy.
“The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office will comply with the mandate of the independent arbitrator and integrate Deputy Fowell back into the organization,” a statement from the sheriff’s office read.
Sacramento NAACP President Betty Williams has expressed her outrage at Fowell’s reinstatement.
“Well, Chris, my first reaction is that I’m pissed. That’s my first reaction,” Williams told ABC10.
“How many steps forward and how many steps back,” Tanya Faison, with Black Lives Matter Sacramento said.
“It’s just a really big disappointment where we finally get — in Sacramento — we finally get a situation where actual accountability has come out of a situation, and it just got reversed,” Faison added.
Tufono’s attorney, John Burris, confirmed that the teen received a six-figure settlement for his civil lawsuit last year. Even around the time the incident took place, Tufono appeared open to reconciling with Fowell.
“I just hope that we could meet again and be on better terms,” Tufono said at the time.