Alarming footage of police tasing a teenage boy for allegedly vaping in public has spurred outrage across the globe.
A group of Maryland officers was seen forcefully arresting the 18-year-old after claims he was asked to stop vaping on the Ocean City boardwalk.
Eyewitnesses say police instructed the teen, Taizier Griffin, to remove his backpack and lay down on the ground, but tased and hog-tied him when he reached for his bag.
Griffin was reportedly charged with resisting arrest and second-degree assault, however, viral footage of the event showed that he appeared to be complying with police instructions at the time.
Twitter user Rob Wiscount said:
“Besides the obvious police brutality on display here, it is also an astounding display of misappropriation of police resources.
“Ocean City used six officers and 50,000 volts…to stop one 18-year-old…from VAPING!
“If he had a skateboard, they’d have called SWAT?”Rob Wiscount, Twitter
Rapper Ice T also commented on the incident, tweeting: “Cops tased this kid for Vaping??? RealIy…! At least they didn’t kill him I guess…smh…. wow.”
Astonishingly, the same thing happened just six days later, with a group of four teens being arrested after allegedly ignoring the ban on vaping.
One of the boys involved claims he was tased, whilst another was pinned down and repeatedly kneed in the side by an officer.
Ocean City officials said that ‘officers are permitted to use force, per their training, to overcome exhibited resistance,’ but many are questioning why the police took such aggressive steps to enforce the boardwalk’s vaping regulations.
Clive Bates of The counterfactual, said: “Two insane American things come together: (1) the moral and now legal panic about vaping; (2) the casual violence and extreme escalation propensity of routine policing.
“Protecting health by banning vaping. Protecting young people by tasing them. Keeping the peace by causing a riot…fire them all.”Clive Bates, The counterfactual
Twitter user Jukka Kelovuori also weighed in, saying: “Getting arrested over vaping is probably way riskier than a lifetime of vaping in itself.”
Officials confirmed that both arrests will be investigated, explaining that they are aware of public concerns about the incidents.
They said: “While the use of force is never the intended outcome, our police department’s first priority is to protect and serve.”
Vaping advocates have raised concerns that widespread bans and strict regulations could lead to more arrests like this.
Yaël Ossowski of the Consumer Choice Center said:
“The MORE you ban and demonize ordinary consumer products, the MORE police interactions you condone.
“We don’t need more situations like this…Let People Live.”Yaël Ossowski, Consumer Choice Center
The consumer group Rights4Vapers also tweeted: “We cannot let vapers be criminalized.
“Vaping is not a crime.”