Police treatment of teen sparks outrage, protest


Hagerstown Police officers pepper sprayed a 15-year-old girl Sunday following an accident where the girl collided with a vehicle while riding a bicycle.

Police officials said officers acted appropriately after the girl became combative on the scene, however a College Park attorney representing the girl said she was the victim of police brutality.

Attorney Robin Ficker posted video of the girl being detained to his Facebook page Tuesday.

By Wednesday evening, the post had been shared more than 36,000 times.

The video shows officers attempting to place the teen in the back of a police cruiser. Officers can be heard warning the teen before a substance is sprayed through the cracked window.

Police said in a press release that the use of pepper spray was justified.

After the teen is sprayed she can be heard yelling for her mother and screaming “I can’t breathe!”

In a statement released to WHAG, Ficker said the girl was also thrown face-first into a brick wall and had her shoes removed before she was placed in the back of the cruiser.

“This little honor student and athlete … was literally thrown for a loop when hit by a car near her home,” he said in a statement. “She wanted to ride home to her family rather than go to the hospital with strangers,” the statement read.

Police released details of the incident Wednesday afternoon. The release indicated that the teen was responsible for causing the crash and that she had drugs on her at the time.

The teen was charged with disorderly conduct, two counts of second-degree assault, possession of marijuana and failure to obey a traffic device.

The crash happened near the intersection of Randolph and North Locust Street around 2:30 p.m.

Police officials said that after a preliminary review of the officer’s body cameras, they believe the officers acted appropriately. Officials said they did not have a comment on the video posted online. Police also indicated they would release the body camera video later in the day Wednesday.

Protesters gathered outside the Hagerstown Police department along Burhans Boulevard Wednesday evening.

Many expressed frustration with the action of police, as well as other nationwide reports of police violence.

Counter protesters also gathered to show their support for officers who they believe are being unfairly criticized for just doing their jobs.

[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this report contained the name of the juvenile who was detained. The girl’s name has since been removed. It is WHAG’s policy to not identify teens involved in most criminal matters.]

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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