(VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.) — Police in Virginia Beach say they are investigating an officer’s use of force after he appeared to use a stun gun on a teenager twice, which was caught on citizen-recorded cellphone video.
The incident began at a traffic stop Jan. 10, the Virginia Beach Police Department said in a statement Thursday.
In the exchange, which appears to be recorded from the perspective of the driver’s side dashboard, the officer says the teen driver is being detained because of the smell of marijuana in the car.
The officer can be heard repeatedly telling the driver and teenage passenger in the back seat to get out of the car, but the teens stay inside.
The driver can be heard saying the “video” is on.
The male passenger says to the officer, who is off-camera, “I’m 17 years old, stop. Stop it now. Stop it, I’m calling my mother, stop it. I’m 17 years old, stop it. I’m 17 years old. I’m 17 years old.”
The officer says several times to “get out” or “you’re going to get tased.”
The dramatic video, obtained by ABC News affiliate WVEC-TV, then captures the male passenger screaming in pain from the electric shock of the stun gun.
The officer then tells the passenger to get out of the car or he’ll be stunned again, and after the passenger ignores the officer’s request, the cop uses the stun-gun for the second time.
Police Chief Jim Cervera said Friday he was “very uncomfortable” watching the video, according to WVEC-TV, and promised a full investigation.
The video stops after an officer picks up the phone, WVEC-TV reported.
Police said Thursday they recovered narcotics and made arrests during the incident, although it’s unclear whether they were charged because Virginia Beach police do not release information on juveniles. The lawyer for the teen who was stun-gunned would not comment on possible charges but said the traffic stop was initiated because of a brake light. Police, who have not commented beyond their written statement, did not offer a reason for the stop.
“The Virginia Beach Police Department immediately began investigating this incident based on the officer’s self-reported Use of Force Report and video captured from the officer’s TASER camera submitted the night of the incident,” the police department said in a press release. The police department said the investigation was not based on a citizen complaint and said it wasn’t aware of the citizen-recorded video until Thursday.
The officer involved is on administrative duty, police said.
The teen driver is “certain” police deleted her video of the incident, she told WVEC-TV.
After she got her phone back, she noticed the “video was in my recently deleted folder,” according to WVEC-TV, but it was still retrievable.
Chief Cervera said it would be a “big problem” if an officer deleted the video, WVEC reported Friday.
Gary C. Byler, an attorney for the family of the male teen, told ABC News that the family wants to thank the police department and is happy the police are investigating.
Byler said in a statement Friday on behalf of the family, “While the family is understandably shaken by the violent nature of the video they are willing to give the internal Virginia Beach Police investigation a chance to be completed. The family is grateful the Department began in investigation on its own and trusts they will conduct a thorough investigation using all video evidence available.”
“As alarming as the apparent violence is the allegation that a member of the Virginia Beach Police Department attempted to delete the images. The family believes civilian videos are an important component of civil order,” the statement continued.
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