Viral video shows Philadelphia officer throwing punches at teen on the ground

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PHILADELPHIA — The video starts with a melee — throngs of people brawling in multiple fights on a west Philadelphia street.

It ends with a police officer tackling a 16-year-old girl to the ground, throwing punches toward her head as the girl’s arms flail.

Exactly what happened in those crucial moments in between depends on whom you ask.

The girl, Johnnaa Pendleton, said she was backing away when the officer violently threw her to the ground.

“She picked me up by my hair, she slammed me by my hair, she banged my hair on the ground, on the car, just yanking me everywhere by my hair,” Johnnaa told KYW.

But the video Monday cuts away just before the teen is taken to the ground. And the footage doesn’t show the teen striking the officer, police said.

“Both the defendant and the officer stated that the defendant struck the officer in the face, knocking her glasses off of the officer’s face (and) breaking them,” Philadelphia police said in a statement.

“At that time, the officer began to struggle with the defendant and grabbed her by the hair, taking her to the ground. Both the officer and the defendant indicated that they both threw punches, striking each other while on the ground.”

Police have not identified the officer, but said she has been taken off street duty pending an internal affairs investigation.

Johnnaa, the teenager, maintains that she shouldn’t have been roughed up.

“At the end of the day, I’m still a minor, and she’s a grown woman and a cop,” she told KYW. “I feel like sick. I threw up twice. My legs hurt. My body is aching.”

“The whole incident was just ugly from start to finish — there is no denying that,” police commissioner Richard Ross said.

The district attorney’s office declined to press charges against the girl.