Maryland police defended officers’ actions after viral videos showed them kneeing and deploying Tasers on Black teenagers to enforce a vaping ban on Ocean City’s boardwalk.
However, Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones on Monday questioned the use of force over vaping.
“The video from this weekend in Ocean City is deeply disturbing. Vaping on the Boardwalk is not a criminal offense,” Jones said in a statement. “Black and brown children should not be tased while their hands are up. Officers should not kneel on the back of a minor. Vaping should not yield a hogtie.”
Four teenagers from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, were picked up Saturday night and charged with various offenses, including disorderly conduct and resisting or interfering with an arrest.
This latest confrontation unfolded just before 8:30 p.m. ET as officers patrolled the neighborhood by the boardwalk and 12th Street and found a group vaping, according to a statement by the town of Ocean City.
Local codes ban vaping and smoking there, and a group of teens complied with officers’ original commands to stop vaping, officials said.
As they walked away, at least one in the group started vaping again, leading to another confrontation, according to the town’s statement.
A “large crowd of people began to form around the officers,” the statement said.
Video appeared to show an officer repeatedly thrusting his knee into one teen who was already pinned to the ground by other officers.
Police acknowledged the footage and promised a thorough review of the officers’ actions.