(BALTIMORE) — The 15-year-old girl who was pepper-sprayed by Maryland police has spoken out, sharing her account of what happened Sunday afternoon at a press conference with her mother and attorney Thursday night. Although the teen appeared at the evening press conference, her name has not been released and Ficker has asked that the media refrain from trying to identify her.
The teen said she “stood her ground” when the officers told her she was being detained and that she was “a little dizzy” and everything was “blurry” after she says she was knocked out from colliding with a car.
According to the teen’s attorney, Robin Ficker, she was riding her bike in the street when a car hit her, causing her to “flip over.” She was knocked unconscious from the fall and regained consciousness about two minutes later, Ficker said.
However, on police bodycam video released by Hagerstown police yesterday, a motorist is heard telling police that the teen hit the side of his vehicle with her bicycle.
At another press conference earlier on Thursday, Hagerstown Police Chief Victor Brito told reporters that when his officers arrived, “the juvenile had to be detained” because she began to be “assaultive” while officers attempted to question her about the traffic accident, but that his officers used the “appropriate amount of force.”
According to Ficker, the teen got back on her bike and an officer grabbed her and held her tightly as another officer put her in handcuffs. Another cop pulled out a Taser when a bystander approached but the Taser was not deployed, he claims.
In the video released by police, officers can be heard telling the bystander to “get back” multiple times. An officer can then be seen telling the girl to get her hands behind her back as he tries to handcuff her, reminding her that she’s “being detained right now.”
Ficker also claims that police then “flung her” into the cement, and the girl hit a window sill that was protruding from a wall. He also says she was dragged and put into the back of the police car. Police never informed the teen about what was happening, Ficker said, refuting police claims that the teen was asked if she was “OK.”
The teen was “never” slammed, Brito said, but was “placed” against the wall. The video shows her being carried horizontally by two police officers, prior to being put in the patrol car. Brito said the officers asked the girl repeatedly to “calm down.” On the tape, while asking for the name of the mother, one officer tells her, “You help me, I’ll help you.” Brito says that police recognized that the girl was a minor and tried to use their “best adult tone” with her.
Once she was placed into the police car, Ficker claims she was then pepper-sprayed four times, one time right in her mouth, and not given water. The teen said the spraying had caused her to start choking. Brito said the teen was only sprayed once and that she was able to wash her face with water when she arrived at the station, which he said is protocol.
Police slammed the car door and never put her seat belt on, Ficker said. The video shows police closing the car door after the teen was sprayed.
She was later taken to the hospital by her father, where she was diagnosed with a possible concussion and other injuries, Ficker said.
“What happened Sunday should never happen to anyone’s daughter,” Ficker said, adding that the girl is an honor student and soccer player.
The teen’s mother also spoke to reporters, condemning police for their treatment of a “disoriented teen” and calling the officers’ actions “excessive.”
She said her daughter acted the way she did because she was “confused and scared.” She said her daughter could have handled the situation better, but wasn’t in the right state of mind.
The teen was charged with disorderly conduct, two counts of second-degree assault, possession of marijuana, and failure to obey a traffic device, police said. The matter was referred to the Department of Juvenile Services. She will not enter a plea, Ficker said, adding that he hopes the Department of Juvenile Services will drop the charges.
The Hagerstown Police Department said it released the videos because it “wanted to share” the perspective from the bodycam footage “to provide a better understanding of that full incident.”
“Officers in this country are placed in difficult situations,” Brito said Thursday. “It’s their job to act in the interest of the community. The last thing we wanted to do is use any force to bring situation under control.”
Brito said the officers acknowledged that the teen was a juvenile and did not use excessive force against her. According to Brito, the teen was warned “multiple times” to stop kicking officers before they pepper-sprayed her.
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