ROSWELL, GA – Already under fire after a coin-flipping app was used to decide to arrest a woman, Georgia’s Roswell Police Department faces an investigation into footage showing a different officer leave a 13-year-old in an unheated car on a freezing cold night.
The unidentified 13-year-old boy was driving a golf cart down the highway around 1:00 a.m. Jan. 2 when officers stopped him.
“You can’t be driving a golf cart in the streets – you understand that, right?” said an officer in body camera footage of the incident.
The teenager told the officers the golf cart came from his mother’s workplace, and she said it was OK for him to take it out for a spin.
The officers continued to ask the boy questions, which he refused to answer. He also gave different accounts of why he was on the golf cart, where he lived and where they could find his mother.
Six minutes into the video, police detain the 13-year-old, place him in handcuffs and put him in the back of the unheated police car.
From the backseat of the car, the boy is heard saying, “I don’t want to go to jail,” “I can’t feel my wrists” and “I just want to go home.”
About 40 minutes into the video, Sgt. Daniel Elzey arrives on the scene to question the teenager. When the 13-year-old doesn’t give straight answers, Elzey says to leave him in the back of the freezing patrol car.
“Let him get a little chilly,” Elzey said. “Maybe that’ll help.”
At the time, temperatures were between the high 20s and low 30s.
“Yeah, I can see your breath. It’s pretty cold back there. You’re going to hang tight right here since you can’t remember Mom’s phone number, and if I can make contact with Mom, we’ll get some heat going,” Elzey told the 13-year-old.
Officers can also be heard taunting the boy for saying he didn’t remember his mother’s phone number.
During a search, when the teen tells police he “feels violated,” an officer says he doesn’t care and feels “violated that you lied to us.”
Police eventually contacted the 13-year-old’s mom and released him to her. There is no mention in the police report of the officers intentionally leaving the boy in the cold car.
Authorities describe the boy in the report as a troublesome teen who constantly frustrates his mother and his two older brothers and has been “suspended several times.”
Elzey was placed on paid administrative leave in July, more than six months after the incident. He will remain on leave while the department investigates.
A string of investigations has been opened recently across metro Atlanta, including Roswell, after videos of arrests were made public.
Two Roswell officers were fired after footage showed them using a coin-flipping app to determine whether to arrest a woman following an April traffic stop.
City manager Gary Palmer says the incidents are “symptoms of bigger issues” and is ordering a comprehensive investigation into how the police department operates.
The report is expected to be completed in three to six months.
Roswell Police will also conduct an internal investigation.