Video footage of police officers in Ocean City, Maryland, using excessive force to arrest four black teenagers on a boardwalk for a vaping violation has sparked outrage on social media.
In viral videos that are being widely circulated on Twitter, the officers are seen tasing one of the teens and kneeing another in the ribs after they were spotted vaping on the boardwalk.
Viral Videos Show Officers Use of Force
In the first video, shot by a bystander, one of the teenagers can be seen with his hands raised in the air as he is surrounded by officers on the boardwalk. Moments later, the individual reaches out for his bag when he is tased by one of the officers in the abdomen, causing him to scream and fall to the ground. Officers then ask the bystanders to back up as the teenager is handcuffed.
"You'll did that for no reason," one of the bystanders can be heard saying in the clip. The officers are later seen tying the teenager's legs before he is carried into a police van. Watch the video below:
In a second clip that is doing the rounds on social media, several Ocean City police officers are seen taking a man into custody. They are heard telling the man to stop resisting as he screams "I'm not resisting" repeatedly and asks why he is being arrested. Moments later, one of the officers knees the man in the side several times, inciting a reaction from the surrounding crowd.
Nearby officers are then seen tussling with a group of black men before one of them (seen wearing a red hat) is restrained and arrested. Before the video ends, two other men can be seen wrestling with the officers before they are subdued and taken into custody.
Teens Charged with 'Disorderly Conduct,' 'Resisting Arrest'
After the videos went viral, the Ocean City Police Department said in a press release that the officers were on patrol on the Ocean City Boardwalk Saturday night around 8:28 p.m. when they noticed a large group of people vaping. After police told them vaping was prohibited in certain areas of the Boardwalk, one of the men in the group reportedly began vaping again as they walked away.
According to a local ordinance, smoking and vaping outside designated areas is prohibited and carries a $500 penalty if it is violated. Police say they approached the group again and asked at least one person for their identification. They said the man â who they later identified as Brian Everett Anderson, 19, of Harrisburg, Pa. - refused to show them his ID, and "became disorderly" as a large group gathered around.
Anderson was released after police charged him with disorderly conduct, resist/interfere with arrest, second-degree assault and failure to provide proof of identity. During the course of the incident, police arrested several other men from Harrisburg, charging them with a number of crimes, ranging from disorderly conduct to assault.
Jahtique Joseph John Lewis, 18; Khalil Dwayne Warren, 19; and Kamere Anthony Day, 19, were identified as the other three men who were all released after being taken into custody and charged.
Ocean City Police Says Officers 'Permitted to Use Force'
In its statement, the OCPD said their officers "are permitted to use force" according to their training and the officers involved in the incident will undergo a "multi-level examination."
"We are aware of the social media videos circulating regarding this incident," the statement read. "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 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."