A Hagerstown, Maryland teenager, who is known to the press simply as Brianna, has apologized to police for cursing at them during an altercation last month, which ended in her being arrested and pepper-sprayed.
The situation was videoed by bystanders and police body cameras and caused a sharp divide in the community and surrounding areas. The girl’s parents hired an attorney, who accused Hagerstown police of police brutality during a press conference. As a result, several peaceful protests occurred in front of the Hagerstown Police Department.
The video was shared on Facebook thousands of times, and many feared an escalation in protest that may lead to riots, as the Hagerstown Police Department was accused of racism by some individuals. The girl involved is biracial, while the officers who responded to the situation were all white. At one point during the video of the confrontation, the girl is screaming for the officers to call in an officer named Zack because she said he is black.
The incident began when the girl, who was riding her bicycle, hit an elderly man’s vehicle at an intersection in downtown Hagerstown. While neither party appeared injured and there was only minimal damage to the man’s vehicle, Maryland state laws say that minors must be given medical treatment after an accident unless guardians arrive on the scene to sign a refusal of medical care. This is law in most states, as minors don’t generally have the legal ability to make medical decisions for themselves.
However, the girl would not call her parents, saying that they were “watching a f**king football game” and wouldn’t want to be bothered. She repeatedly attempted to leave the scene and walk away from police during their questioning, saying “I’m not f**king hurt” and telling them not to touch her when they physically stopped her from leaving the scene.
WARNING: The video below contains profane language and may not be appropriate for children.
Things quickly escalated when she started to physically struggle, and police placed her in handcuffs.
Her hysterical screaming drew the attention of many onlookers, one of which told the police, “You let that badge go to your head.”
The Hagerstown police officers eventually placed the child in a cruiser after trying to get her to calm down and comply for approximately 12 minutes. At that point, police say that she still was not cooperating and would not place her feet inside the cruiser.
After telling her multiple times to comply, police pepper-sprayed her, and the girl could be heard shrieking and saying, “I can’t breathe!”
Attorney for 15 yo girl pepper sprayed by Hagerstown Police says she won't face criminal charges pic.twitter.com/427j1bGRfZ— Richard Reeve (@abc7Richard) October 5, 2016
Although many citizens agreed that police had been reasonable and used the least force possible, others disagreed and said that she had been brutalized and pepper-sprayed due to racism. At no point during any of the videos do the police officers refer to race or make any racial remarks. The girl was charged with disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana, failure to obey a traffic device, and two counts of second-degree assault, according to the Herald Mail.
Her parents hired an attorney, Robin Ficker, who said that the police had slammed Brianna’s head into a wall and that she was terrified. He argued that pepper-spraying her was unnecessary and described her as a promising student and accomplished athlete during a press conference. Brianna stood beside her attorney and looked down during most of the police conference and read an account of the situation from her point of view.
Yesterday, the Herald Mail reported that Brianna had apologized for her foul language to police and that, subsequently, charges against her had been dropped. The Hagerstown Police Department had no comment, saying it was a juvenile issue and referred questions to the Department of Juvenile Services. Many area residents expressed outrage on Facebook that the girl got away with several crimes.
Brianna’s attorney says that the girl and her family are delighted that the charges were dropped, but a civil case against Hagerstown Police Department remains a possibility. He says that she was swearing because she had struck her head.
“The letter simply apologizes for her language…. What she said was undoubtedly affected by her striking her head.”
Readers, what are your thoughts? Do you believe the child was assaulted by police and cursing because of a head injury?
[Featured Image by Vladimir Arndt/Shutterstock]