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Hogan calls video of Ocean City arrest over vaping ‘disturbing’

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on March 18, 2021 in Annapolis, Md.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on March 18, 2021 in Annapolis, Md.Brian Witte/Associated Press

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that he had watched one of the viral videos of police officers in Ocean City using a Taser and kneeling on a teenager’s leg while enforcing a vaping ban this weekend and found it “disturbing.”

He said he would not comment further until an investigation had been conducted.

The governor said that he had reached out to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and that the Maryland State Police had been in touch with Ocean City police about the incident. "We're just anxious to get the initial investigation conducted so we can have all the facts before making any further statements about it," Hogan said.

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The weekend incident has been condemned by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, the NAACP and several state lawmakers. On Monday, Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, called it "deeply concerning."

The NAACP Maryland State Conference and local leaders from Worcester County have scheduled a rally in Annapolis on Wednesday to call attention to tactics that, they said, "do nothing to improve trust between the community and police."

Willie Flowers, the president of the NAACP Maryland State Conference, said in a statement that the NAACP demands a thorough investigation "that starts with a review of all camera footage and background of the aggressive officer who kicked and detained a teenager who was facedown on the ground during the assault."

He also called for all officers to be removed from their positions until the investigation has been completed. Four teenagers, all from Harrisburg, Pa., were arrested during the incident.

Meehan said in a statement Monday that the city police department's office of professional standards is investigating the incidents. "We understand the public's concern," Meehan said, adding: "While the use of force is never the intended outcome, our police department's first priority is to protect and serve."

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State Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, R-Worcester. said that she had watched the police department’s entire video of the arrests and that she thinks that the individuals detained “were informed of the smoking and vaping prohibition on the Boardwalk, and their follow-up violent actions led to their arrest.”