OCEAN CITY — Ocean City police this week are reviewing the use of force by officers during an incident that began with a vaping violation and resulted in the arrest of four on the Boardwalk on Saturday evening.
Around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers were patrolling on the Boardwalk in the area of 12th Street when they observed a large group of individuals vaping in violation of the town’s smoking ordinance. OCPD officers approached the group and informed them of the ordinance regarding vaping on the Boardwalk and advised them to disperse.
As the group walked way, one of the individuals, later identified as Brian Anderson, 19, of Harrisburg, Pa., began vaping again, according to police reports. OCPD officers approached the group again to address the ordinance violation, and during the course of that interaction, Anderson refused to provide his identification and became disorderly.
OCPD officers attempted to place Anderson under arrest for violating the ordinance and failing to provide proof of his identity. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, second-degree assault and failure to provide proof of identity.
During the interaction with Anderson, another member of the group identified as Kamere Day, 19, of Harrisburg, approached the officers and yelled profanities at them. OCPD officers placed a police bike between them and Day and advised him to back up, but he reportedly disregarded the orders and continued yelling profanities at them as they attempted to arrest Anderson. Day was ultimately arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, second-degree assault and obstructing and hindering.
OCPD officers and public safety aides (PSAs) attempted to provide a perimeter to separate the hostile and aggressive crowd from the officers making the arrests. One suspect, identified as John Lewis, 18, of Harrisburg, allegedly pushed a PSA in the chest while yelling profanities. Lewis then picked up a police bike and attempted to strike a public safety aide with it. OCPD officers were able to get the police bike away from Lewis, but he reportedly assaulted a PSA again. Lewis was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, second-degree assault, obstructing and hindering and failure to obey a lawful order.
As OCPD officers maintained a perimeter, they reportedly saw another suspect, identified as Khalil Warren, 19, of Harrisburg, standing on private property next to two “no trespassing” signs. OCPD officers gave Warren a lawful order to leave the property, but he reportedly became disorderly. When officers attempted to arrest Warren, he resisted. He was ultimately arrested and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest.
A video of the entire incident, including the officers using various levels of force to subdue the arrestees, was distributed on social media and quickly went viral. An OCPD statement released after the incident addressed the officers’ use of force during the incident.
“We are aware of the social media videos circulating regarding this incident,” the statement reads. “Our officers are permitted to use force, per their training, to overcome exhibited resistance. All uses of force go through a detailed review process. The uses of force from these arrests will go through a multi-level examination by the Assistant Patrol Commander, the Division Commander and then by the Office of Professional Standards.”
At the Police Commission meeting on Monday, OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro issued a similar statement regarding the incident.
“We’re actively looking into the 12th Street incident,” he said. “We had four arrests. There was force that was used in this incident. I can tell you that it’s very much active. We’re soliciting the assistance of the public if they have any information. As with any use of force, this is a multi-layer review process that is currently underway. Beyond that, that’s where we are right now.”