Group to rally following arrest of Petersburg teen - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Group to rally following arrest of Petersburg teen

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PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) -

An outcry from Petersburg neighbors as a result of video of a teenager's arrest -- a video that's now gone viral. Those neighbors are organizing a protest against police. A 19-year-old claims an officer assaulted him because he was recording a traffic stop on his cell phone.

Prince George Police say Petersburg officers called them for help with a traffic stop at the Petersburg East apartments. That's when a teenager found himself in a confrontation with a cop.

K-9 officers and suspects in handcuffs found crowds eagerly watching all of the activity Tuesday. Police tried to break up the bystanders.

"Get inside now. Inside," an officer told the crowd.

19-year-old Devin Thomas was capturing it all on his cell phone. That's when another officer approached.

"How old are you? How old are you?" the officer is heard asking.

That's when the video flips. Thomas claims he was forced to the ground.

"What you doing? I ain't do nothing," Thomas is heard saying in the video.

"Somebody struck me on the side of the head with the night stick. That's why I had blood in my eye. I couldn't see nothing anymore. That's why I was looking down the rest of the video," he said.

As he walked away bloodied and bruised, the teen was arrested - charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

"Move, move, move. Get inside," officers continued to yell.

Attorney Steve Benjamin took a close look at the video.

"I can't imagine any situation where police can order a bystander to stop taking their picture or making a video recording," Benjamin said.

He says based on the cell recording, it's unclear whether officers used excessive force. But he says it is legal to record in public. In fact, he encourages it when necessary.

"We can all think of encounters between police and citizens that we probably would have never believed possible but for the existence of a video recording," he said.

Prince George police have cleared its officers of any wrongdoing as Petersburg Police continues to investigate. None of its officers are on leave following the altercation.

"After he did it, he whispered in my ear 'Now record that B#**#...I don't want them to get away with this one," Thomas added.

Monday morning, a citizen's rights group is organizing a peaceful protest outside of the Petersburg Courthouse and Police Department. Members are inviting the public to bring signs as they rally for accountability from police. The event starts at 8 a.m. and lasts through noon.

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