He wouldn’t answer their questions – so cops kept 13-year-old in frigid car, video shows

Video shows Georgia police leave teen in cold car

Roswell police officers pulled over a 13-year-old male for driving a golf cart down Highway 9 in Roswell, Ga. The sergeant said the teen, who refused to give police his mom's correct contact information, wouldn't cooperate if it was warm.
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Roswell police officers pulled over a 13-year-old male for driving a golf cart down Highway 9 in Roswell, Ga. The sergeant said the teen, who refused to give police his mom's correct contact information, wouldn't cooperate if it was warm.

Only days after two Roswell, Ga., police officers were fired for deciding a woman’s fate with a coin-flipping app, the department is in the spotlight again.

This time, a police sergeant has been suspended for intentionally leaving a 13-year-old teen in the back of a chilled police car when he did not answer questions to officers’ satisfaction, WXIA reported. The station was the first to break the story, as well as the story of the coin-flipping officers.

The incident happened more than six months ago, on Jan 2., at about 1 a.m., according to the station. Police said they stopped a 13-year-old boy who was driving a golf cart down the road with “soaked and frozen” clothing, the station reported.

But as they questioned him in the frigid weather, the teen either kept changing his story or refused to answer officers’ questions, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

After a few minutes, officers handcuffed and detained him in the back of a patrol car while they tried to figure out what to do with him, according to the paper.

In a body cam video released by the city of Roswell, the officers can be seen speculating that the teen stole the cart. Later, from the back of the car, the teen says he can’t feel his wrists. An officer, identified by the AJC as C. Dickerson, checks on him and tells him the cuffs are loose. The teen appears to cry.

“I’m trying not to take you to jail, but I can’t just let you go turn around and go home in the golf cart either,” she tells him. “I need you to be honest with me, and .... help me find your mother.”

He tells the officer his mother is “not here” because she is on a date.

“So you took the golf cart without her permission?’

“Yes,” the teen says. He adds that it’s “the company’s” golf cart that his mother allows him to use sometimes.

Police said he gave officers a phone number he said belonged to his mother, but when officers called it, it wasn’t answered, Patch reported. Officers tried contacting a keyholder at an apartment complex, but it turned up no leads, according to the site.

In the video, the officers continue to question the teen, but don’t seem to get anywhere.

Eventually, Roswell police Sgt. Daniel Elzey arrives at the scene and talks to the teen in the car. He leaves the car and tells Officer Dickerson to meet him at his own car.

“He isn’t going to say anything if its warm,” he tells her. “He isn’t going to say anything if he’s sitting in the back seat and its warm. So he can sit over there and be cold. That’s why I rolled your windows down.”

After a few minutes, Elzey leaves the car to speak to the teen again.

“Getting cold yet?” he asks the teen. “You can take it? Cool. So can I, because I’ve got heat in this car,” Elzey says. He asks the teen where the golf cart came from. The answer is inaudible, but Elzey responds “Science school. Where is this science school?”

After a few moments, Elzey says “Yeah I can see your breath, it’s pretty cold back there,” and asks the teen to keep talking. Eventually, the teen gives the officer an address.

“I’m going to drive to this address you gave me ... you’re gonna hang tight right here since you can’t remember mom’s phone number. And if I make contact with mom, then we’ll get some heat going,” Elzey says.

Police were eventually able to get in touch with the teen’s mother and return him to her without charges, though they were not able to find the owner of the golf cart, WXIA reported.

Police said the mother was frustrated with the teen’s behavior and said he was “constantly in trouble with school and has been suspended several times,” according to Patch.

Elzey was placed on administrative leave and will remain on leave until the conclusion of an investigation, the AJC reported. The incident report did not mention the teen being intentionally left in the car, according to the paper.

Roswell’s city administrator Gary Palmer released a statement on the city Facebook page addressing “recent reporting” on the department.

“It is clear to me, the Mayor and Council and the Chief of Police that what you are seeing are symptoms of bigger issues; issues that we need to clearly identify and deliberately address as expeditiously as possible.,” he wrote. He announced a full investigation of the department from outside groups as well as internal changes.

“As your city administrator, I am stunned by the lack of professionalism and compassion displayed by some of our officers. Chief Grant, the Mayor and Council and I are committed to ensuring that all of our officers understand and embody the qualities of professionalism and compassion as they perform their duties,” he wrote, adding that a full report could be expected by the end of the year.