In case you thought America was finally getting a break from the influx of recorded police misconduct against people of color, new disturbing footage has surfaced to set the record straight.
Two New York City police officers were filmed threatening students from a high school in Brooklyn with a Taser as they walked down the street.
According to The Root, the incident occurred in mid-March. The video shows one of the officers with his baton in hand as he and his partner approached a group of students that they were trying to drive away from hanging out in the front of Midwood High School.
The footage was shared by Alex Vitale, an associate professor at City University of New York. The officers were clearly taunting the students, and the one with his baton drawn went as far as to push one boy. Although the shove was light, it was still inappropriate.
Visibly exasperated, the teen told the officer not to touch him, which is when the cop began provoking him by repeating, “What are you gonna do about it?”
As the cops continued following the adolescents, the officer pulled out his Taser and asked, “You wanna ride the lightning?”
It should be noted that the NYPD’s patrol guide indicates that Tasers should “generally not be used on children,” according to The Gothamist.
As the kids crossed the street, the officer shouted “You better walk away,” before finally ending his little power trip.
Vitale said he started to record the ordeal when he saw the officer get out of the patrol car with his baton already in hand.
While he admitted that he wasn’t aware of what — if anything — occurred before he tuned into the encounter, he noted that he didn’t observe anything happening at the moment when the officers approached the black teens.
"Following the tragic death of Eric Garner almost three years ago, the Mayor and NYPD assured the public that they were going to retrain officers in how to deescalate interactions with the public and reform their use of force policies to reduce the chances of future tragedies. The officers in this video did just the opposite," Vitale said in a statement provided to Carbonated.TV.
"Rather than explaining the reason for the dispersal and showing patience and professionalism, these officers immediately resorted to threats and force in [a] way that can only serve to undermine respect for those officers and their authority in the minds of those young people. Using threats and intimidation in that way seems like a grossly unprofessional shortcut and raised the chances of an escalation in tensions, bad feelings, and potentially the use of force."
The NYPD said the clip is “under internal review.” Ultimately, it’s up to the civilians to make sure the police officers are held accountable and this incident doesn’t just get glossed over.
If any of the teens would have allowed their temper or frustration to get the best of them while being taunted, they may have faced the same tragic fate as the many unarmed people of color whose untimely deaths made national headlines after clashes with law enforcement turned deadly.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Shannon Stapleton