A shocking video that is going on viral on social media shows a white police officer lift a 14-year-old black teenager into the air before slamming him hard on the ground and placing him in handcuffs. His crime? Apparently, selling water outside the Philadelphia Zoo.
It all happened Thursday afternoon, when a white zoo security officer flagged down police to try to get them to stop a group of kids from selling water outside the zoo. A police officer then tried to talk to the 14-year-old boy and he apparently walked away. Shortly thereafter, he was on the ground and in handcuffs. The lead-up to the incident is far from clear and authorities claim the kids made a threatening comment to a safety officer just as the police was driving past.
The video begins with a far-away view of the scuffle between the police and the teenager, but shows how the officer lifted the boy to the ground and threw him into the ground. At the same time the incident appears to be causing a big argument between two members of the zoo’s security staff as other kids and adults yell around them. “Is this what you want?” one of the security officers, a black woman, can be heard telling a white female colleague while all this was going on. Another police officer then joined in and helped the arresting officer take the teen away as children and adults look on.
A 53-year-old water vendor said he was tased and arrested when he tried to intervene on behalf of the boy. Both the teenager and the water vendor were later released with disorderly conduct citations.
The Philadelphia Zoo said in a statement that the boy who was arrested was part of a group that has been involved in multiple incidents involving “soliciting money from Zoo guests” and “throwing rocks at a Zoo member” outside the entrance to the facility. “Unexpectedly, the subsequent interactions between PPD and the group resulted in the arrest of one of the individuals involved. This is an unfortunate and unusual incident at the Zoo,” the statement said.
The video was reposted by Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, who vowed that the arrest “would not go unanswered.” Khalif characterized the incident as another example of how “the Philadelphia cops are out of control.” An internal police investigation is allegedly underway to figure out exactly what happened.