Police in Ocean City, Maryland, have defended officers’ actions after four teenagers appeared to be violently arrested on Saturday for allegedly violating a vaping ban.
In video posted to social media, police can be seen surrounding and tackling a teenager, who appears to be Black, to the ground as a crowd gathers.
Shortly after, an officer can be seen repeatedly kneeing the teenager in the stomach as an officer shouts “stop resisting”.
The teen can be heard saying "I'm not resisting" as he appears to ask what is he being arrested for.
Video of the altercation is below. Viewers may find it disturbing.
Ocean City police have said the teen, who they identified as Brian Everett Anderson, 19, was charged with assault of the second degree, disorderly conduct, resisting/interfering with an arrest and failure to provide proof of identity.
According to The Washington Post, in addition to kneeing the teenager, police also used a Taser on another individual in the crowd and had an altercation with a third who picked up a police bicycle, with many in the crowd appearing upset by officers’ actions.
Ocean City police’s statement makes no mention of a tasering incident, but confirms the second altercation.
In its statement, the Ocean City police appeared to defend officers’ actions, asserting that “our officers are permitted to use force, per their training, to overcome exhibited resistance”.
“All uses of force go through a detailed review process,” the department said.
“The uses of force from these arrests will go through a multi-level examination by the Assistant Patrol Commander, the Division Commander and then by the Office of Professional Standards,” it said.
According to police, the officers involved in the incident had been on patrol on the Ocean City Boardwalk at around 8.28pm when they noticed a group of people vaping.
They said officers told the group vaping was not permitted in certain areas of the Boardwalk, but one member of the group started vaping again as they walked away.
The police said officers then approached the group again and asked at least one person for their identification.
They said the individual refused to provide their ID and “became disorderly”.
In a comment under video of the incident on Instagram, Arianna Davis, the senior director of editorial and strategy at Oprah Daily called the footage “absolutely heartbreaking”.
“How is this STILL happening?” Ms Davis wrote. “I’m glad at least there are onlookers trying to put a stop to it. But the true tragedy is there should never be bystanders telling police officers what they’ve done is wrong.”