Over the weekend in Ocean City, Md., an incident involving a group of teens accused of vaping by police was videotaped and has since gone viral. One young man who appeared to be taking off his backpack was hit with a taser while the crowd looked on, and another person was tasered for trying to stop the police from using more extreme force.
The Washington Post reports that on Saturday (June 12), a group of teenagers found themselves confronted by Ocean City officers who were attempting to corral the group after accusing them of using a vape device, which is outlawed in the beachside town. One video, which has since gone viral, shows one person backing away and attempting to reach for his backpack to take it off, prompting one of the officers to taser the teen and wrestled him to the ground.
Other accounts from the harrowing moment state that officers kneed one of the teens in the stomach while claiming they were resisting arrest and another person was tasered for trying to break up the melee. In all, four teenagers were arrested and city officials pledge that they will review the actions of the officers but did add that they had the right to use force against any perceived threats by way of their training.
A press statement that went wide after the arrests highlighted that two of the teens, both 19, hailed from Harrisburg, Pa. Apparently, they were warned against using their vape device by officers but were observed again using the vape, and thus they were approached by the officers. After the teen reportedly refused to show his identification, the officers moved in to arrest him. Both teens were released via their own personal recognizance.
The video of the incident is shocking, as it is clear that the teen posed no real threat to the officers and was most likely afraid to escalate things. Not only was the teen tasered, but he was then hog-tied and hauled away as if he just robbed 100 banks. To be fair, the other teen arrested may have disobeyed the order of the cops by picking up a police bike, but his frustrations were no doubt fueled by seeing his friend sprawled out on the ground in pain from the taser.
Screams from the crowd can be heard and most observers felt that the officers’ reaction to stopping the big, bad vapers was over the top. Twitter agreed for the most part, and we’ve got some of those reactions below.