BALTIMORE — Lawyers for two teens that were seen in viral videos being arrested by Ocean City Police for vaping say they intend to file a civil lawsuit against the department.
The law firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy says an official notice was sent to the mayor of Ocean City informing them of their plans.
They accuse officers of using excessive force and violating their clients constitutional rights earlier this month on the boardwalk, and are demanding those involved be suspended, and that all charges be dropped against their clients.
"To seek real justice on their behalf for the vicious and unreasonable attacks they suffered at the hands of the ocean city police and board walk patrol.. Simply because they were inhaling odorless vapor smoke," said attorney Malcom Ruff.
One of those clients is 19-year-old Brian Everett Anderson, of Harrisburg Pennsylvania.
Police say the June 12 encounter began when Anderson and others were seen vaping in a prohibited area.
After being warned, Anderson was seen vaping again while walking away.
Officers asked numerous times for his ID for which he allegedly replied, "I ain't giving y'all s**t."
Police say Anderson continued to walk away in a disorderly fashion, prompting officers to place him under arrest.
The video picks up with an individual believed to be Anderson on the ground with police on top of him.
As officers struggle to take Anderson into custody, one appears to knee him multiple times while others repeatedly yell for him to stop resisting.
"I honestly felt like I was going to die not a day goes by that doesn’t cross my head where I don’t think what if the cameras weren’t around what if he would’ve never stopped kneeing me," Anderson said.
In their report, officers admit to kneeing Anderson in his hip in order to get him to release his hands so they could get him in handcuffs.
During the arrest, a hostile crowd is seen forming around police, leading to several others being charged.
All suspects in that case including Anderson were later released on their own recognizance.
"I’ve never been so afraid in my life. All I could thing of at that moment was to call my mother . Our lives will never be the same after this horrible experience," said Anderson.
That followed a June 6 incident, where 18-year-old Taizier Griffin was tased after police say he threatened to kill them when he was told not to vape.
Police wrote in a report that Griffin initially ignored them and refused to stop when officers asked to see his ID.
One officer tried unsuccessfully to bear hug Griffin to the ground, at which point they deployed a taser to get him into custody.
After he was tased, police say Griffin told officers to take the cuffs off so he could fight them, while continuing to kick and yell "your lives are over."
"I watched in disbelief as the police officers pointed their tasers at Taj and I watched him put his hands up my own brother," said Tavin Griffin, Taizier's younger brother. "The officers instructed Taj to take his book bag off and then when he did they shot him."
Police dispute that however, writing that Griffin spat on officers when they tried to take off his book bag, as a crowd of about 30 people began to form.
Officers reportedly found a fixed blade knife in the book bag.
Griffin was ultimately held on $3,000 bond.
In a statement, Tuesday police said, "we are aware of the comments made at the press conference today. The investigations into the incidents are underway. Due to the on-going investigation, we are unable to comment further at this time."
At the time the incidents began circulating on social media, police said "We are aware of the social media videos circulating regarding this incident. Our officers are permitted to use force, per their training, to overcome exhibited resistance," said Deputy Communications Manager, Ashley Miller. "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."
"We must say now today, we stand against police violence we stand against the idea that those that are entrusted to uphold the law become the ones who are lawless," said Colby Little, the President of Baltimore's chapter of the NAACP.