- Two white police officers pepper sprayed a black 16-year-old teenager in Norfolk, Virginia, earlier this month.
- The teen, reportedly a student at Granby High School, was filmed being held against a police car as officers told him they wanted to search his pockets.
- When Tariq asked the officers to stop touching him, one of them unleashed pepper spray in his face.
Two white police officers who pepper sprayed a 16-year-old black teenager who was suspected of skipping school have defended their actions by saying he was giving them “attitude.”
In video of the October 8 incident, the teenager identified only as Tariq, from Norfolk, Virginia, was seen interacting with police officers.
The teen, reportedly a student at Granby High School, was filmed being held against a police car as officers told him they wanted to search his pockets.
Tariq told police officers he was trying to comply but they were pulling him to the ground.
An officer responded by saying, “I don’t have to explain myself to you.”
Prior to the struggle, officers tried to stop Tariq as he walked down the street, but the teen refused, Tariq’s spokesman, Michael Muhammad, told the Virginia Pilot.
Muhammad said police “snatched” the teen’s shirt and bag “in a very aggressive way,” and when Tariq asked the officers to stop touching him, one of them unleashed pepper spray in his face.
Witness Larry Ricks told the Virginia Pilot that an officer told him that Tariq gave him “attitude,” and that he pepper sprayed the teen after finding a pencil in his pocket.
“See, he could’ve stabbed me in the face with this pencil,” Ricks recalled the officer saying.
Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone released a statement about the viral video of the incident.
“Two officers observed a juvenile walking in the 200 block of East 19th Street. High school dismissal time in Norfolk is 2:05 p.m. and there have been 210 larcenies reported in that area since January 1, 2018,” he said. “It is the responsibility of the Norfolk Police Department to attempt to abate those larcenies.”
Police said they saw the teen walking down the road at 12:50 p.m. and suspected he was skipping school.
Boone said the stop was “appropriate,” and that Tariq had struck an officer twice.
“The officer then told the juvenile to put his hands behind his back, instead he placed his hand in his front pocket which resulted in the use of OC spray,” Boone said, adding that the incident was recorded by an officer’s body camera.
Boone said the use of force was “in accordance with policies and procedures of the Norfolk Police Department” and that Tariq could be criminally charged with a misdemeanor after an investigation.