Police Abuse

Cops Tased and Beat Teens While Enforcing a Local Vaping Ban

Dumb laws lead to police brutality.

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Over the last several years, people across the political aisle have conceded that parts of the drug war only serve to exacerbate certain problems. At the same time, politicians of both stripes have engaged in a bipartisan effort to restrict a new bogeyman: vaping.

So they shouldn't be surprised that such restrictions are colliding with overpolicing—one of the most glaring issues with the war on drugs.

On Saturday in Ocean City, Maryland, officers notified "a large group" that their vaping was in violation of a local ordinance that prohibits vaping and smoking except in designated areas. After walking away, cops noticed one of the same teens, Brian Everett Anderson, reengaging with his vape. "Officers approached the group again to further address the violation," reads a press release from the local government. "During the course of the interaction, the male refused to provide his proof of identification and became disorderly."

A viral video making the rounds Sunday appeared to cast some doubt on the idea that the situation merited such force. The clip shows a teen with his hands up, surrounded by Ocean City officers and public safety aides. He is then tased, falls to the ground, and is later hogtied and carried away.

Three other teens—Kamere Anthony Day, Jahtique Joseph John Lewis, and Khalil Dwayne Warren—were also arrested, the government notes, alleging that they, too, engaged in disorderly conduct and tried to disrupt the scene. Additional videos show a group of officers piling on top of one teen while a cop knees him repeatedly in the side.

"Our officers are permitted to use force, per their training, to overcome exhibited resistance," reads the statement from the government. "All uses of force go through a detailed review process. The uses of force from these arrests will go through a multi-level examination by the Assistant Patrol Commander, the Division Commander and then by the Office of Professional Standards."

But what officials in Ocean City appear to miss is that such a scene would not have been possible at all had it not been for the dumb rule they put in place. Legislators need to confront the fact that any law on the books has to be enforced with armed agents of the state.

They are not alone. Former President Donald Trump's administration moved to ban certain electronic cigarette flavors in an effort to curb teen usage; Democrats have not been immune to similar pieces of legislation. The effort is unusually bipartisan, which, if history is any indication, is not a reflection of good policy making, particularly when it comes to moral panics.

The bans are not rooted in science: Vaping has been shown to help smokers quit and provides a safer alternative to cigarettes. But even if that weren't the case, it shouldn't matter in the context of smart rule-making. Time and time again, communities have come up against the collateral damage of the drug war: black markets that incentivize violence, and overpolicing that sees people thrown in cages for making questionable personal choices. No one is asking politicians to morally sanction the use of various substances—we are asking that they live in reality.

This is not the first high-profile example of a law weaponized in a gruesome way. Eric Garner, one of the most well-known victims of police brutality, died after New York City Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo choked him for the crime of selling loose cigarettes.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is proposing that menthol cigarettes be banned, because they are used disproportionately by black people. In other words, Ocean City's policing gone wrong won't be the last.

NEXT: The PRO-SPEECH Act Is Anything but First Amendment-Friendly

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  1. This article is proof that vaping causes violence!!

    1. Well, it’s certainly proof that your stupid public health and safety measures which are enforced by the police have only one way to go.

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      2. Something I came to realise was that any law will ultimately be enforced at gunpoint, and possibly use of force, which can end up being lethal (intentional or not).

        1. Something I came to realise was that any law will ultimately be enforced at gunpoint

          Murray Rothbard wrote about this more than three decades ago.

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    4. Yeah, I knew it was a lie when they said vaping was safer than smoking.

  2. Fucking asshole cops.

    1. Yes, and fucking asshole city council for dispatching them to enforce this rule that they made.

    2. Thats a mean word to say acctually

  3. “No one is asking politicians to morally sanction the use of various substances—we are asking that they live in reality.”

    I remember idealism.

  4. The Ocean City Council was able to check another box off their strategic plan “to-do” list with the implementation of a new smoking policy on the beach and Boardwalk. The new ordinance, which was approved by the council in March, prohibits smoking on the Boardwalk, yet provides designated smoking areas on the nearby beach.

    The new policy, which was a top priority on the City Council’s Policy Agenda in 2014, has several important details pertaining to smoking areas in Ocean City, including public parks and covered bus stop shelters. A copy of the ordinance in its entirety can be found here.

    However, here is what you need to know before the policy takes effect on May 1, 2015.

    1. The Boardwalk & Beach Accessways are Smoke-Free.

    2. The Beach & Dune Crossings are Smoke-Free (Except in designated smoking areas on the beach).

    3. Ocean City Parks & Covered Bus Stop Shelters are Smoke-Free.

    4. The smoking rules apply to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, and any other matter or substance that contains tobacco.

    5. Smoking must be contained within 15 feet of the waste receptacle in each designated smoking area. The Boardwalk is a smoke-free zone.

    Voluntary compliance of the ordinance is expected. However, the Town of OC code allows for issuance of citations for violations. Thank you in advance for your observance of this law.

    1. Sec. 30 -602. Legislative Intent.
      It is the intent of the Mayor and City Council of Ocean City to protect the
      public from involuntary exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and vapor in certain
      areas open to the public.
      Sec. 30 -603. Violations.
      a) Smoking and vaping is unlawful in the following public parks:
      a) Ocean Bowl Skate Park
      b) Ocean City Tennis Center at 61 st Street & Coastal Highway
      c) Playgrounds at Bayside Park (aka Downtown Recreation
      Complex)
      d) Tennis Courts at 3rd Street
      e) Robin Park
      f) Little Salisbury Park
      g) Northside Park
      h) Gorman Park
      i) North Surf Park
      Q) Sunset Park
      b) Smoking and vaping is unlawful on Atlantic Avenue except within fifteen
      feet of a designated smoking area.
      c) Smoking and vaping is unlawful within a Bus Shelter or within fifteen
      feet thereof.

    2. And on top of that, OC recently proposed (or maybe passed by now) a ban specifically targeting smoking or vaping of marijuana or hashish on the boardwalk.

      Talk about piling on.

      https://patch.com/new-jersey/oceancity/ocean-city-ban-marijuana-smoking-boardwalk-beaches

  5. OK, I’ve never vaped or know – to my knowledge – anyone who does.
    Is there a noxious odor that is given off that might offend others?
    Is there a toxic substance that is in the vapor?
    Why is council banning it except “for the health of the user?”

    1. Hint:

      Many, if not most, “vapers” are younger people and not lily-white. Now figure out why they want to ban it. Why does Biden want to ban menthol cigarettes? Because, statistically, they are very popular among not-so-lily-white folks. It’s racist as hell. Now figure the same. But it’s for their own good, of course.

      As one who has vaped (cigs) and smokes, I can tell you they are a lot less noxious than cigarettes, pipes, or cigars.

    2. It’s about like people wearing perfume. Vaping is a fancy way of sniffing perfume.

    3. Well I think it’s pretty clear from that video. It’s a way to roust and tase young black males who are not engaging in violence or crime or driving. How else are the police going to practice tasing and chokeholds and reading Miranda warnings and processing arrests and keeping the courts and prisons full and such?

    4. Any odor is very mid and dissipates quickly. Nicotine is a toxic substance, but the amounts anyone will be exposed to second hand and outdoors is negligible. Bans on vaping have nothing to do with health and are completely about “sending the right message” or punishing people who like nicotine or some such bullshit.

    5. OC, MD is very strict and puts a clamp down on vacationing youngsters especially on the boardwalk. The boardwalk is the family friendly area and they don’t allow any smoking on it at all. At this time of year, HS senior week(s) are taking place, large crowds of 17-19 year olds are getting drunk and having fun.

      And despite what Jfree thinks they will hassle lily white teens as well; I know from personal experience. Pro tip, if a cop lets you off with a warning, stop what you were doing and get the fuck away from them. That isn’t to blame the victim in what appeared to be an unwarranted attack but pre-cautionary advise that allows you to continue having a good night.

      1. Recent high school graduates, less than affectionately known as “Junebugs,” have been doing dumb shit on the Boardwalk for decades.

        OCMD has seen a spike in violence, especially in the downtown Boardwalk area, over the last few years, and I think that law enforcement is adopting a less permissive attitude towards all crimes for this season.

      2. I was under the impression that this lesson was something black kids had to be taught by their parents in an awkward coming-of-age Talk unique only to the African American experience. Go figure.

        1. Other races and classes get ‘the talk.’ but I am beginning to think that the ‘social justice’ mindset and left-leaning tendency in education has degraded its effectiveness. Teenagers are generally entitled assholes when showing off, and they seem to show off more in the social media age, not that this warrants a beating or tasing on the surface.

    6. The vapor is a very toxic substance that kills hundreds of people that inhale it every year, white knight knows it as HO2, you know it as water

      1. You need to brush up on your chemistry: HO2 is not water, it’s Hydroperoxy radical dioxidany.

        1. You missed the joke

          1. Yeah, I thought I might have….

          2. Reminds me of once on FB (in which cesspool I used to have an account) of memes showing a gallon of milk (or something) and the attachment declared: “don’t drink this, it contains dihydrogen monoxide!”

        2. I resent laws passed to protect me from myself. I and I alone should be in charge of the risks I take so long as there is no threat of harm to others.

    7. I resent laws passed to protect me from myself. I and I alone should be in charge of the risks I take so long as there is no threat of harm to others.

  6. But what officials in Ocean City appear to miss is that such a scene would not have been possible at all had it not been for the dumb rule they put in place.

    Not exactly that scene, no, but such a scene, yes. I’ve yet to see evidence that a marginal increase in petty edicts like this leads to an increase in police brutality. I think once you get past the first few — loitering, etc. — the police have all they need for excuses. If they want to “get” someone they “get” someone.

    Police brutality and the regulatory state are each their own problems, and HyR’s attempts to find their intersection has gotten very tiresome, and distracts from efforts to cut down each. The main problems in police brutality are:

    • the types they’ve been hiring;
    • unbalanced adjudication, i.e. no adverse consequence for malefactors;
    • an increased sense that the police are against the community rather than of the community.

    Getting rid of vaping ordinances is not going to move that needle.

    1. I agree. But moving the first real needle – which would be the driving offenses that are mainly administrative rather than reckless. What’s the chances of that happening?

    2. You don’t suppose the smoking/vaping ordinance might be a camouflaged crowd-control device, do you?
      And if it’s that, it might end up being enforced against crowds of disfavored skin color more-so than against others?
      With some reason, I (White) might say, if only socio-economically.
      White kids are more-likely to have lawyer parents, for one thing.

  7. “a new bogeyman: vaping.”

    Politicians must have two things:

    1. Bad things by popular accord [at least among themselves and MSM]
    2. Laws against those bad things.

    Then their work is done and they can go home for the day. It’s not like virtue can just signal itself, and you need it to say that you did something and should be reelected.

  8. Something that people don’t seem to understand is that every single law that is passed is enforced at gunpoint. If we don’t want cops harassing vapers, there’s a really easy way to stop that — change the law that forces them to harass vapers.

    If you’re not willing to shoot somebody in the street over a law’s violation, it probably shouldn’t be a law.

    1. This is not the problem, as I wrote above. I think people understand it very well, and figure that as long as the force is overwhelmingly on one side, the other will surrender, so no violence. And if you ask them whether the cops should shoot someone who really, really won’t comply otherwise, most people would say yes. They don’t object to the threat of lethal force, because they understand correctly that it will rarely come to that.

      The problem is twofold: the use of unnecessary force, and laws against minding one’s own business. Two distinct things.

    2. So are you suggesting that there should not be laws against shoplifting, vandalism and defecating in public ? Nobody wants to have a dumbass teenager shot for stealing a pair of cheap suglasses, but nobody wants people to get away with stealing expensive steaks and high end blue jeans and reselling them on the black market – hence the occasional person getting his ass kicked for eluding or resisting. Seems like normal life. If you do stupid shit you get bad results.
      On the other hand, if we don’t want kids to smoke and we are not willing to have the occasional young moron to get his ass kicked for running/resisting/failure to do right, anti-smoking activity has to be a parental thing and we are never going to get all parents to step up. That means we live in an imperfect world wadhere sometimes police are more black and white than we might wish and sometimes kids do stupid stuff and nobody does anything about it. Nothing is perfect. On balance it seems pretty reasonable.

  9. “During the course of the interaction, the male refused to provide his proof of identification and became disorderly.”

    Thus justifying the tasing/beating.

  10. Oh come on now, the assholes who come up with these bans know EXACTLY that this kind of shit will happen and they are totes ok with it. They do not see smokers or vapers as humans-they are nothing but addicts who deserve the full force of the law. Some think that roughing up and sending these people to jail will be what they need to quit, and the price that must be paid to have their nicotine free utopia.

    1. No, I think it’s not even that. They consider them deviants who need to be made to conform or be eliminated from society. They don’t think they’re doing anything for these people’s own good. If they could harm their health, they would.

      1. That may well be what they actually think, but they mostly at least pretend to care about health or “the children”, who these kids, and anyone under 30 are according to “science”

  11. Tough call. I’m generally in favor of beating teenagers

  12. From the fda website
    “Maryland police bravely charge into unknown toxic area to prevent potential terrorist from poisening crowd”

    1. LOL

  13. These laws are designed to serve two purposes:
    1. There are a certain group of people who do not like smokers or anything that comes close to smoking and they are very vocal, as well as usually well healed i. e. members of the political oligarchy. These laws are designed to make them happy and shut them up.
    2. There are a second group of people, usually young and rambunctious and though they may not be doing anything overtly illegal they annoy those in group one and those who are, in this article, spending money in establishments where this incident happened. This gives the police a reason to harangue the offenders until they find another place to do there vaping.
    It is as simple as that, no grand conspiracy. They have been doing this since I was in high school, of course back then it was about skateboarding and MD2020 and not vaping but the result was the same. Adults with children (and money) don’t want to have to deal with rowdy kids and the businesses don’t either.

  14. lucky the kid wasn’t shot when he reached for his back. that said stupid cops do stupid shit to enforce stupid rules. give the kid a ticket for vaping and move along

  15. Stupid pussies. What, 5 cops for one chubby dweeb with a vape and his hands up? Taser in the stomach? I guess the dude is just lucky it didn’t hit his privates.

  16. He was tased because he didn’t stop to get a citation. You can agree or disagree on the use here, but saying it was because he was vaping is dishonest framing. He twice refused to stop for the police, who were enforcing a valid civil citation.

    The time to fight unjust laws is in court or through public opinion, not during a valid stop.

    1. Problem is only the cops decide what is valid, because they will lie to justify it.

  17. I wonder what would happen were I to call the cops on moms who sip wine at the playground in a plastic cup while their kids play? I would never think to do such a thing but the answer is probably nothing (they are rich white moms)

    1. I disagree. If you made the complaint, an officer would go to the mems directly and say “Hey, look, it’s illegal to drink on the beach. I’m telling you this as a courtesy. Please don’t make me make a bigger issue of this if I have to come back.” The ladies would be pissy, but they would put their wine back in the car and that would be that. They are not teenage boys whose job is to push boundaries and test authority.

  18. Stupid law, but would there have been any violence if the youth would have complied and only vape in designated areas? Doubt seventeen year-olds complying with police orders would have been tased or arrested.

  19. Vaping hysteria = Tobacco lobby still has a lot of power.

  20. If people cared about their children, police would be extinct.

  21. I think teenagers should be randomly beaten all the time.

    1. For some reason this comment reminds me of the Butthole Surfer’s “Pepper” video. Not sure why; maybe it’s the dancing cops.

  22. The ultimate enforcement of any law is at the barrel of a gun. If you don’t want the law enforced, then don’t pass it! Easy, Peasy! They are called laws and are meant to be enforced. Otherwise, they would be called suggestions.

    Those that now rule us (not govern) want as many laws as possible and they want us to break those laws. It equals money and power for them.

    1. If you can explain how the city or county profits from enforcing the law, I’m waiting to hear it. The cost of hiring, training and outfitting police officers, setting up dispatch services, finding clerical staff to track and preserve evidence, providing vehicles, staffing the courts, providing court rooms, bailiffs, clerks, judges, stenographers etc. is astronomical. The ones who actually DO profit are our friends in the litigation industry.

      1. Just look at all those people/jobs/positions of power you just listed.

  23. I’m surprised Reason hasn’t posted the shocked, SHOCKED! Twitter response of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids yet. But the tweet is still relatively young and working on an impressive ratio.

    https://twitter.com/TobaccoFreeKids/status/1404536501828993027

    The trite response “Hey, we wanted to force people to not vape, but NOT LIKE THIS!” would be hilarious if it didn’t carry such dire consequences. What did they think the cops would do, patiently explain to the kids the dangers of nicotine addiction before handing an infraction?

    1. Nice to see in the tweet comments people telling CFTFK to go fuck themselves Now if only someone would tell them to do that on the Today Show.

  24. When all participants of a “system” are feeding from the same nose-bag, free from competition — and are allowed (by your neighbors and friends — hopefully not you) to
    • Make the laws,
    • Enforce the laws,
    • Prosecute the laws,
    • Hire the prosecutors,
    • License the “defense” attorneys,
    • Pay the “judges”,
    • Build the jails,
    • Contract jails out to private entities,
    • Employ and pay the wardens,
    • Employ and pay the guards,
    • Employ and pay the parole officers,
    One can’t honestly call it a “justice” system. It’s a system of abject tyranny.

  25. Seems like if you want competition to enter the equation, you would be in favor of private jails and prisons, no ? Also, you seem to believe that any system that allows a government to regulate the behavior of its citizens is abject tyranny. Am I misunderstanding?

    If all attorneys were public employees, hired and paid by some government entity at the same pay rate as police officers, teachers and sanitation workers, much of this would go away. If every case, civil or criminal were handled by whichever attorney was next on the list, regardless of experience, expertise or personal preference and folks had no ability to hire private attorneys, the motive to drag things out and appeal endlessly over meaningless crap would go away. Just sayin’.

    1. Yes, you are. And you’ve just described a Systopia that no one should ever have t live in. “If all attorneys were public employees, hired and paid by some government entity at the same pay rate as police officers, teachers and sanitation workers, …. If every case, civil or criminal were handled by whichever attorney was next on the list, regardless of experience, expertise or personal preference and folks had no ability to hire private attorneys,”

      1. DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDystopia!

  26. Imagine how much brutality would ensue from enforcing “common sense”, “sensible” gun legislation.

  27. I fear for our safety in the future following these rampant acts of unkindness towards others – how can you tase a child when you are more than 4 police officers… is this lack of logic or what.

    https://mp3paw.tv

  28. Get out the superglue & epoxy, far far worse than unrefined plant smoke, and that would be “proper outdoor ventilation,” yes?

    “Give us your ID — hands up — go for your backpack — hands up — comply or be shot — hands up!”

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