Harnett County, NC — A disturbing video was shared with the Free Thought Project this week showing police officers slam and arrest a girl who is reportedly just 14-years-old and then do the same thing to her sister. According to the person who shared the video with TFTP, she was assaulted and arrested for the mere act of filming police.
The video shows the arrest of a young black man by two Harnett County deputies as two teenage girls film the arrest. In the video, the girl filming asks police why they are arresting the young man.
"You said he's being detained because he is jittery?" the girl asks.
Ignoring the girl's question, the deputy then asks, "who lives here?"
"Him and his dad," the girl filming replies.
"Is his dad home?" asks the deputy.
"No," replies the girl. "He has a job."
At this point, the deputy, who is holding a pill bottle, then turns his attention to the 14-year-old girl who is also filming.
Although it is briefly off camera, the deputy apparently tries to confiscate the girl's phone.
"You cannot take my phone," the girl states as the camera moves back toward her.
As the video shows, after the girl refused to hand over her phone, the deputy jumped on her back, placed her in a choke hold and slammed her to the ground.
"You're under arrest!" the deputy yells.
As they bring the 14-year-old girl to her feet, she kicks the phone to her sister who tries to pick it up. As the girl filming picks up the phone, she is then attacked by the deputy as well.
"This is her personal property," says the girl as she backs up in fear.
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"It's evidence," the deputy says as he appears to tackle this girl as well.
While the details of this case are unclear, and there also appears to be a pill bottle involved, the level of force used to take down two teenage girls looks over the top. It is clear in the video that the deputy only wanted to get the phone, and to do this, he attacked two small girls who posed no threat.
The Free Thought Project reached out to the person who posted the video as well as the Harnett County sheriff's office but we have not yet heard back.
The sheriff's office released a statement Tuesday morning, however, claiming to have found marijuana in the vehicle.
"When the deputy approached the vehicle, the smell of marijuana was detected coming from the passenger compartment," the sheriff's office said in a statement.
The sheriff's department noted that a small amount of marijuana was found on one of the other girls in the vehicle.
This could've been what was in the pill bottle.
The 17-year-old black teen who was seen being put into the car was arrested and charged with having a gun, which was under the driver's seat in the vehicle—found after a search of the vehicle— after he was detained.
"The incident is being looked into and we will have additional details/information at conclusion," the sheriff's office said.
Below is this disturbing video.
As TFTP has reported, it has been clearly established that all Americans have the right to record the police. For an officer of the law to remain willingly ignorant of this precedent is at best, dereliction of duty, and at worst, unlawful deprivation of rights. Either way, these cops appear to be in the wrong.
As the ACLU points out,
Taking photographs and video of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right—and that includes transportation facilities, the outside of federal buildings, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.
Unfortunately, law enforcement officers have been known to ask people to stop taking photographs of public places. Those who fail to comply have sometimes been harassed, detained, and arrested. Other people have ended up in FBI databases for taking innocuous photographs of public places.
The right of citizens to record the police is a critical check and balance. It creates an independent record of what took place in a particular incident, one that is free from accusations of bias, lying, or faulty memory. It is no accident that some of the most high-profile cases of police misconduct have involved video and audio records.
When police refuse to have their public service documented and this refusal morphs into kidnapping and assault, something has gone seriously wrong. No one should ever face persecution for their first amendment rights—especially in the land of the free.