Skate Castle owner responds after video of off-duty deputy handcuffing minor goes viral

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DECATUR, Ala. -- A video showing an off-duty Morgan County Deputy handcuffing a minor has gone viral on social media since Saturday.

The incident took place at Skate Castle in Decatur. WHNT News 19 spoke to the owner of the 55-year-old business who defended the off-duty officer's actions. He said putting handcuffs on a child is a last resort solution for the business, and that the whole story isn't being told.

J.A. Phillips, the owner of Skate Castle, said the incident started when the brother of the young girl in the video didn't want to obey a rule. Phillips said everyone under the age of 18 is required to wear skates while at the rink on Friday and Saturday nights.

"It's done as a safety measure. Basically to keep kids from just coming and hanging out and making this facility into a hangout. It's for kids who enjoy skating and want to have a good time. That's the reason that rule is in place," explained Phillips.

After failing to obey the rule, Phillips said the male teen was asked to leave.

"The officer and he walked out. There was no problem, but then he snuck back in," said Phillips.

According to Phillips, the off-duty deputy started to escort the male teen back outside when the scuffle began.

"He was scuffling with the officer and while the officer was trying to put handcuffs on him the young lady in question was trying to pull the officer physically trying to pull the officer off the young man," said Phillips.

He said the officer put handcuffs on the male teen and then went over to the girl.

"That's when the video was shot just of her being arrested. Everything else that happened didn't make it on there," said Phillips.

Phillips confirmed the woman who appears to assist the officer was not a Skate Castle employee. He said he wishes the incident hadn't escalated to the point it did but doesn't think the officer's actions were wrong.

"This was an isolated incident. Ninety-nine percent of times when you come out here everything is fine. I don't need an off-duty officer. But I have one just in case and normally there is never a problem because these kids are good kids. There is just occasionally one or two that don't behave."

Phillips said for the first time in 35 years he will be closing Skate Castle at 10 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. He said the change isn't directly a result of the incident but thinks the change will help deter children from acting up.

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