Pima County Deputy Who Restrained Teen Amputee Will Not Face Charges


By Jessica Swarner

March 12, 2020

The deputy tackled a teenage quadruple amputee at a Tucson group home after the boy reportedly became angry over a suspension and kicked over a trash can. 

A deputy who restrained a 15-year-old amputee at a group home in Tucson last fall will not face charges.

According to 12 News, the Pima County Attorney’s Office said in a letter that it could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Deputy Manuel Van Santen’s use of force was unnecessary. 

Deputy Van Santen was called to the group home Sept. 26 after the boy allegedly became upset over being suspended and kicked over a trash can. 

Van Santen reportedly decided the boy needed to be arrested for disorderly conduct and attempted to detain him. A cellphone video taken by another teen in the home shows Van Santen putting the shirtless boy in a headlock and tackling him to the ground. He also yells and curses in the boy’s face. 

KOLD first published the video in November. The Pima County Sheriff’s Office placed Van Santen on leave shortly afterward and began a criminal investigation into his conduct. The Sheriff’s Office reported its findings to the County Attorney’s Office, which ultimately decided not to pursue charges.

Van Santen has maintained he did nothing wrong.

“I can look my wife and my children in the face tonight and know that I did my job to the best of my ability. I look forward to clearing my name and returning to duty,” he said in a statement to The Associated Press about a week after the video went public. 

Van Santen also arrested the teen who was filming for disorderly conduct, but charges against both boys were later dropped.


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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