OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) — A Maryland public defender is calling for Ocean City Police to implement the use of body-worn cameras following a viral video of the arrest of four teens on the boardwalk.
In a letter to Mayor Rick Meehan and Chief of Police Ross C. Buzzuro, Chasity Simpson called for the police department to begin implementing the use of body cameras.READ MORE: ACLU, NAACP Demand Investigation After Video Shows Ocean City Police Officers Using Force To Arrest Teens Accused Of Vaping On Boardwalk
Around 8:30 p.m. on June 12, officers saw a large group — among them were 19-year-old Brian Anderson, 18-year-old Kamere Day, 18-year-old Jahtique Joseph John Lewis and 19-year-old Khalil Dwayne Warren — allegedly vaping along the boardwalk. A local ordinance prohibits smoking and vaping outside of the designated areas.
The officers allegedly asked the group to stop vaping, but as the group was leaving, officers saw one person continue to vape.
The encounter escalated and the officers began to arrest the teens. But it was their use of force that created controversy. Video of the arrests shows one of the teens being tased while holding his hands up and another shows an officer being kneed in the side, while he was already restrained.
Simpson stressed in her letter, that police use of excessive force is common on the Eastern Shore.
“The video of Ocean City police tasing, kneeing, and restraining Black youth for purportedly violating a smoking ordinance is disturbing, but sadly not isolated. My office regularly represents individuals who are stopped for a minor violation that escalates due to police conduct. What is unique about this interaction is that a private citizen was brave enough to record the mistreatment and to publicize the video.” Simpson wrote. “Oversight and accountability of police conduct should not require recordings by private citizens.”
The Maryland legislature passed Senate Bill 71, which will require Maryland law enforcement agencies to mandate body-worn cameras and implement a policy by July 2025.
Simpson asked that Ocean City police adopt this measure sooner. She said it would not only help hold police accountable but could also improve police relations with community members and tourists.READ MORE: Another Teen Reports Violent Arrest Over Vaping In Ocean City; Governor Hogan Calls Videos ‘Disturbing’
“Now is the time for decisive action, not just to address what happened last week, but to bring our police department up to the quality and standards of national best practices,” Simpson wrote. “Body-worn cameras have become standard-issue equipment in law enforcement agencies across Maryland and the country. BWCs serve a valuable role, not just in promoting transparency and accountability, but in recording evidence, promoting professionalism, and documenting officer performance and interactions with the public.”
All four teens, who are from Harrisburg, Pa, were charged in the incident.
Anderson was charged with disorderly conduct, resistance and interference with arrest, second-degree assault and failure to provide proof of identity. He was seen by a Maryland District Court Commissioner and was released.
Day was charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing and hindering, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, resistance and interference with arrest, second-degree assault. He was seen by a Maryland District Court Commissioner and was released.
Lewis was charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, obstructing & hindering, second-degree assault, and resistance and interference with arrest. He was seen by a Maryland District Court Commissioner and released.
Warren was charged with trespassing-posted property, resistance and interference with arrest. He was seen by a Maryland District Court Commissioner and released.
Read the full letter below:MORE NEWS: Teen Tased By Ocean City Police Speaks; NAACP Calls For Suspension of Officers, Discusses Possible OC Boycott