Disturbing videos surfaced over the weekend showing Maryland officers using physical force against Black teenagers at a boardwalk in the Eastern Shore town of Ocean City after two separate alleged vaping violations.
Footage of a June 12 encounter between four Black teenagers and Ocean City police officers has been viewed more than one million times since it was first shared by Instagram user @lodogray.
“My trip to ocean city ended in 4 young black boys being abused and arrested over a vape and for standing up against the foolishness of the police,” she wrote in the post with the footage.
Four teens, Brian Anderson, 19, Kamere Day, 19, Jahtique Joseph John Lewis, 18, and Khalil Dwayne Warren, 19, all from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, were arrested by Ocean City police following an encounter on the boardwalk.
On June 12, just before 8:30 p.m., officers were patrolling on foot when they noticed a group of people vaping near 12th Street. Police confronted the group and told them local ordinances prohibit vaping outside of designated areas, but as the group walked away, officers noticed someone in the group was still vaping, police claim.
According to authorities, when officers confronted the group a second time, Anderson became disorderly and would not identify himself. As officers placed him under arrest for failure to provide ID, he resisted and was charged with disorderly conduct, resistance and interference with arrest, second-degree assault and failure to provide proof of identity.
Authorities said that as Anderson was being arrested, Day approached and began yelling profanities before he was also placed under arrest for disorderly conduct. He was charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing and hindering, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, resistance and interference with arrest, second-degree assault.
Lewis allegedly pushed a public safety aide, then attempted to pick up a police bicycle and attempted to strike an aide. He was charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, obstructing & hindering, second-degree assault, and resistance and interference with arrest.
Warren was charged with trespassing-posted property, resistance and interference with arrest after officers asked him to leave private property.
All four men were released after being seen by a Maryland District Court Commissioner.
In an earlier incident, a video from June 6 shows a teen stand with his hands raised, then appear to reach toward the straps of his backpack as if to take it off as officers ordered him to the ground. The teen was Tased in the stomach and fell to the ground before removing the bag.
“Are you serious?” a bystander asked. “Ya’ll did that for no reason.”
Video shows the teen was then carried away by officers. According to bystanders, he was hogtied as officers removed him from the scene.
The Washington Post reported that the video was taken on June 6 and shows 18-year-old Taizier Griffin being hit with a Taser while in Ocean City with friends for Senior Week. According to Griffin’s mother, he was walking along the boardwalk with a tobacco vape when an officer told him he couldn’t use one in the area. He put the vape in his pocket and walked away but an officer grabbed his arm. The teen pulled away and put his hands up before he was Tased.
She also confirmed that her son was hogtied as he was carried away, adding that he’s been charged with second-degree assault.
Two other videos of the more recent Saturday encounter show officers using physical force on the group of teens.
In a video captured during the June 12 incident, a teen pinned to the ground by four officers was kneed repeatedly by an officer who shouted, “Give me your hands!”
In response to the use of force, the surrounding crowd grew visibly and audibly agitated as a conflict broke out between a group of young Black men and several officers and public safety aides.
In another video, a man was then Tased as officers rushed to kneel on his back. Dozens of people stood and watched the altercation as many filmed the encounter on their phones.
On Twitter, the Ocean City Police Department said they were aware of the videos circulating on social media.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, called on Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to investigate the recent incidents involving unarmed Black teenagers and Ocean City police in tweet accompanied by the video clip.
WARNING GRAPHIC & VIOLENT. Attorney General @BrianFrosh can you please investigate these multiple incidents involving police and unarmed Black teens in Ocean City, MD? @RepAndyHarrisMD is this your district??”
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot also urged Frosh to investigate the incident.
“The incident involving the Ocean City Police Dep. over the weekend is deeply disturbing. We must have zero tolerance for police misconduct. I strongly urge the Att. General to begin an immediate investigation. There must be swift and strong consequences for any and all misconduct,” he said in a statement.
Frosh said on Twitter that he’d seen the videos and was “deeply concerned,” adding that he’d been in contact with law enforcement agencies regarding the issue.