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Very Real

Video Shows Cops Arresting Black Teen For Selling Water At A Philly Zoo

A 53-year-old water vendor was allegedly tased and arrested when he intervened.

By Samira Sadeque

A video has emerged of police reportedly slamming a black teenager to the ground and handcuffing him outside the Philadelphia Zoo..

The video, which was shared by Dominique Davis on her Facebook, was posted July 5 and had 272,000 views as of Monday morning.

Two police officers arrested the unnamed boy, who is said to be 14-years old, after zoo security called the police about him selling water, reports WTXF-TV, a Fox-operated TV station in Philadelphia.

He was part of a group of children selling water on behalf of a local football team, according to WTXF, which reported that when police tried to talk to the 14-year-old, he walked away. Moments later, he was on the ground, being handcuffed by the police, WTXF reported.
The video captures a minute of panic as someone from behind the camera is heard screaming "Don't do that ... don't do that!" Another person shouts "Stop it! Please," as another officer and a security official run toward the scene. Two people in the same uniform are seen arguing with each other, as one pleads with the officers pinning the teenager to the ground. The teenager is then seen being escorted away by the two police officers. 

The video, which appears to be shot from a few feet away, does not show the build-up to the incident, but does depict the police holding and slamming the boy to the ground, before putting handcuffs on him.
“These kids was just trying to make money for their football team,” Davis wrote in the caption of her video.

Zoo authorities have said one of the teens made a “threatening comment” to a public safety officer as a police car was driving by, according to WPVI-TV, an ABC-operated TV station in Philadelphia. It is not clear which teenager made the comments.

Police told local news station WTXF that the teenagers were not raising money for the football team as they claimed, and zoo officials told WPVI, that the same teenagers have a history of soliciting money from zoo-goers, harassing zoo employees and throwing rocks at them.

"Why would you get physical with the children?" Gregory Muhammad, a 53-year-old water vendor, told WTXF. He was reportedly tased to the ground and arrested after intervening, according to WTXF. 

Hans Menos of the Police Advisory Commission, a civilian oversight agency of the Philadelphia Police Department, told Oxygen.com that he was questioning whether police should have been called to the scene at all.

"Why are we involving the police in these situations? There should be an opportunity for us to think about when we’re involving the police," he said. "We know that our young men of color are often framed as threatening as a means to justify poor treatment of them." He also told Oxygen.com that a senior zoo official was unable to confirm with him the nature of the "threatening" comment.

An internal affairs investigation is going on about the incident, according to WTXF. The 14-year-old and Muhammad were released from custody with disorderly conduct citations.

[Photo: Screenshot from Facebook video c/o Dominique Davis]