Video Shows Immigrant Children Being Dragged and Slapped By Staffers at Arizona Shelter
Immigrant children were recorded being dragged, pushed and slapped by staff members at an Arizona shelter in September, according to footage obtained by the Arizona Republic.
The incidents allegedly occurred before the federal government suspended the Southwest Key shelter's operations this fall, according to the outlet.
Southwest Key is a Texas-based nonprofit organization that operates shelters for unaccompanied immigrant minors.
The organization reported the incidents — they involved three children and staff members in Youngstown, Arizona — in mid-September, reports Arizona Republic.
One of the blurred surveillance videos, released by the Arizona Department of Health Services, shows a male staffer dragging and pulling a boy into a room, then slapping him and pushing him against a wall. The staffer strikes him and then leaves the room, the newspaper reports. The boy then goes into the corner and proceeds to pound on the window in a door in another room.
In a second video, two staffers drag two children, who appear to refuse to stand, into another room.
In an emailed statement to PEOPLE, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office confirmed they investigated several allegations of child abuse and assault on minors occurring on Sept. 14, 17 and 21 of 2018.
“After the initial response by patrol deputies, detectives conducted a thorough investigation of all three incidents, including interviewing all involved parties and witnesses, and conducting forensic interviews with the child victims,” they wrote. “Investigators also reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance camera footage from inside the facility to ensure there were no other unreported incidents.”
They added: “Based upon the evidence gathered during this thorough investigation, MCSO executive command has made the decision to submit the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for its review and determination of criminal charges.”
Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office told PEOPLE that they're working to determine “if all aspects of the potential allegations were thoroughly investigated. We must determine if all criminal violations were considered or if further review is necessary.”