Dallas cop suspended for telling 14-year old boy ‘I’ll break your f**king neck’
The incident happened last fall on October 1st, 2014, but the cell phone video has only just surfaced, leading to an internal investigation and the suspension of Dallas police officer Terigi Rossi. The officer told investigators it was a verbal technique he used to solicit information.
According to police records, police officers Rossi and Stacy Ward were responding to a 911 hang-up call at an apartment complex in north Dallas. When they arrived, no one answered the door. When a woman finally did answer the door, she first told officers she had not called 911, but later admitted that she did make the call when trying to find out where her car had been towed.
Officer Ward, in her report, said Rossi entered the apartment because he suspected something more was going on than the woman and the 14-year-old were telling him.
As the teenager continued to deny that anything went wrong, the conversation between Rossi and the boy turned heated, with Rossi repeatedly using profanity. Rossi claimed the woman became combative and he arrested her.
The nearly four-minute video shows the officers escorting the woman to the squad car, with the teen following. The video was obtained by the Dallas-area station WFAA through an open records request.
In the footage, Rossi asks the teen if the woman is his mother. The teen initially says “yes,” but then explains his real mother is working. The teen’s tone is matter of fact. Rossi, however, threatens to take the teen downtown if he doesn’t talk to him.
“Then you are going to a foster home,” Rossi says in the recording. “I need to know what happened here, because right now, she’s going to jail.”
The teen asks why. Rossi responds that it’s because she didn’t listen to him.
The teen says nothing happened, and Rossi asks the teen why the woman told him to shut up.
The teen says: “She’s telling you to shut up.”
Raising his voice, Rossi then says: “No, she telling to you to shut up. I understand Spanish. OK. …look at me when you talk to me. Ok, be a man.”
The teen tells the officer to remove his sunglasses and look him in the eye.
That angered Rossi, who leans in to the teen and says: “If I were you, son, I’d shut the f**k up, ‘cause I’ll break your f**king neck. You understand me?”
Rossi then tells the teen he is under arrest.
The teen asks why, telling the officer not to touch him before breaking free.
“I’m telling you right now, Get the f**k over here! Listen to me!” Rossi tells the teen. “You’re just like your mother. You’re a piece of f**king [expletive]. You little [expletive].”
In the end, a supervisor was called to the scene and decided there was not enough evidence to arrest either one of them.
The teen alleged that Rossi grabbed him and hurt his arm and neck. In her report, Officer Ward did confirm that Rossi put his arm around the teen.
In Rossi’s police report about the incident, he said the boy started to cry and he placed his arm around him to “console” him, but failed to mention any of the insulting confrontation with the boy. He also said he was using “verbal judo” to try and get information from the teen. Rossi said threatening to break his neck was a “verbal technique that I’ve used to try to calm down people or suspects in my career with no intention of ever meaning the words I say.”
The investigation took a different turn when the stepmother contacted the supervisor and told him she had video of the incident.
In a later statement to internal investigators, Rossi said he did threaten to break the teen’s neck because he had been rude with him, and he was trying to regain control of the scene.
“There was never any malice or intent on my part,” Rossi wrote. “All I want(ed) to do is find out what had occurred on this particular call. Could I (have) handled this particular situation differently, yes, but this is a job that if you don’t show your control at the scene things can get very ugly.”
Rossi was originally a member of the Dallas SWAT team and a regular fixture on the TV show of the same name, but prior to the October incident he lost the SWAT gig when he was caught sleeping on the job.
Rossi was suspended for three days for the incident with the teen, but is now back on patrol.