OCEAN CITY, Md. — Ocean City officers caught on camera tasing and struggling with teenagers over alleged vaping violations has sparked outcries for justice and reform.
Ocean City police say it all started because four teens were vaping and smoking in a prohibited area, and escalated when they resisted arrest, yelled profanities, and tried throwing a police bike at a public safety aid.
This is not the first time tensions over vaping on the boardwalk have been caught on video that circulated on social media.
On June 6, an 18-year-old was tased after police say he spit on officers and threatened to kill them when he was told not to vape.
In that case, officers also apparently found a fixed blade knife in the suspect's book bag. He was ultimately held on $3,000 bond.
In a statement the department said "while the use of force is never the intended outcome, our police department's first priority is to protect and serve. They do not target based on race or age."
The department said their officers are permitted to use force to overcome exhibited resistance but local leaders say it wasn’t justified.
"It was designed to be a non-arrest-able offense. It was designed to be just given a ticket," said Attorney Bill Murphy
The department is conducting an internal review while the officers remain on duty.
But the NAACP Maryland Conference wants those officers suspended while a third party conducts a thorough review.
"Any officer allegedly participating in the excessive use of force should be held accountable," said President of the Anne Arundel County NAACP, Jacqueline Boone Allsup. "There is no reason to restrain anyone in an inhumane way."
They also want the charges dropped against the four teens, who were all released on their own recognizance. As well as more work done on the state level to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
The legislature passed multiple police accountability and reform bills this year but they are not yet in affect.
"We have to have a different relationship with the police department," said Carl Snowden, Convenor of the Caucus of African American leaders. "The new generation is demanding that, that they be treated with respect and dignity."