On Saturday night, 19-year-old Brian Everett Anderson, of Harrisburg, PA, was hanging out with his friends on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland. What should have been a serene evening quickly turned violent when Ocean City police surrounded the teenager before subsequently tasing him — allegedly all because Anderson was vaping.
In a now-viral video, Anderson can be seen holding his hands up as multiple police officers surround and yell at him. Anderson's crime, according to the officers, was vaping on the boardwalk — something they claim to have told him to stop doing earlier in the evening. Refinery29 has reached out to the Ocean City Police Department for comment, but has not gotten a response.
In the video, Anderson is seen apparently attempting to comply with the officers, and appears to unhook a strap in order to remove his backpack when he is tased by a police officer. The teenager instantly clutches his stomach and falls to the ground, where he is swarmed by at least four officers. The fact that the police officers were being watched — and filmed — by bystanders did not seem to faze them, nor did it hinder them from carrying out the arrest.
"Stop! He was standing there!" one woman can be heard screaming. "What is wrong with you?" another bystander says, as a police officer tries to push the growing crowd back.
The video then shows officers rolling Anderson onto his stomach, after which point at least three of the officers kneel on Anderson while pulling Anderson's arms back and placing him in handcuffs. Additional police officers created a barrier around the teenager with their bicycles, seemingly to prevent what was happening from being clearly filmed. Five officers then hoist Anderson up and carry him away. All of this, of course, occurred over an alleged vaping "incident."
While viral videos and other documented instances of police brutality have been vital in the continued pursuit of justice and accountability, it's clear that body cameras and the presence of witnesses have not deterred officers from engaging in acts of brutality and violence. A 2016 analysis of the use of body cameras by police officers found that even though cameras are used by every major police force in the country, they have done nothing to diminish or deter police brutality.
Yes, the now-infamous video of convicted murderer Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd after kneeling on Floyd's neck for over 9 minutes was vital in the subsequent trial and the eventual conviction of Chauvin. In fact, the teenager who filmed the killing, Darnella Frazier, received an honorary Pulitzer for filming the incident, with the citation reading: "For courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists' quests for truth and justice."
But no amount of documentation has kept police officers from brutalizing unarmed Black and brown people. Since Floyd's murder, at least 229 people have been killed by police officers. From Andrew Brown to Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor to Anthony Thompson Jr., it will take more than a viral video to do what is necessary: overhaul police departments across the country, seeing as how they're populated by officers who have grown far too comfortable using unwarranted force against unarmed citizens — sometimes leading to their deaths.