“This cop in front of me is just staring me and my friends down for absolutely no reason and saying things like, ‘I’m not a cop you can mess with,’ and I just started laughing because it was crazy,” — Cameron Rader
PRATVILLE — A Prattville High student claims he was wrongfully detained and sprayed with mace by a Phenix City police officer during the final minutes of Prattville’s playoff football win last Friday.
Cameron Rader, a 17-year-old senior at PHS, said the officer claimed that Rader had pushed him.
Rader said when he denied touching the officer, the man shoved him backward into a walkway.
“I had my back to this officer talking to a girl who was standing behind me,” Rader said. “The cop yells at me — ‘Hey son’ — and tells me, ‘Push me one more time.’ I told him I didn’t push him, and he like freaked out.”
A video of the incident, filmed by another student standing behind Rader in the stands, was sent to Rader — and shared among several Prattville students — and provided to the Montgomery Advertiser by Rader’s attorney.
That video picks up just as Rader is being shoved back through the crowd.
Rader can be seen briefly trying to get out of the officer’s grasp — he says he pushed the officer to get him away from his throat and to defend himself.
After a brief pause in which the two are separated, the officer comes back at Rader, shoves him back through a crowd of students to a railing, and as the teen is standing with his hands by his sides, the officer sprays something into his face.
“I was telling him to get his hands off me, to stop touching me, and then I asked what I did,” Rader said.
“You can see that on the video. I have my hands by my side. I’m being compliant and he keeps pushing me. That’s when he maces me. I couldn’t breathe. It was in my throat and nose and the fumes were burning my eyes. And it hurt for a long time.”
Several attempts to reach the Phenix City Police Department’s public relations officer on Tuesday were unsuccessful. A message left after hours wasn’t returned.
Rader and his parents, Mark and Renee, retained attorneys — Montgomery lawyers Michael Kidd and Clay Teague, who are law partners — and say they want to know that the situation is properly addressed. Kidd, a former prosecutor, said he plans to ask the Alabama Bureau of Investigations to review the video and formerly investigate the incident.
Kidd also said he believes Cameron Rader’s civil rights were violated.
“When you detain someone as they did, that’s arrest,” Kidd said. “It appears to me that possible criminal conduct occurred on behalf of this officer, and I want someone to examine that.”
Cameron Rader said the incident began when Phenix City police officers asked several Prattville students to back away from a railing in the stands. Rader said he wasn’t standing by the railing, but once that row of students moved back, there was no one between him and the police officers.
“This cop in front of me is just staring me and my friends down for absolutely no reason and saying things like, ‘I’m not a cop you can mess with,’ and I just started laughing because it was crazy,” Rader said. “When I laughed, he said, ‘Oh, you think this is funny? Do you see me laughing?’ I told him no sir.”
Rader said the brief confrontation ended at that point and he turned to begin talking with a female student behind him. A few seconds later, he said the officer accused him of the push.