Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, pointed guns at an unarmed teenager and screamed at him to get on the ground as he recorded them detaining another group of teens.
“Why you pulling a gun on me?” the teen recording asks an officer twice on a cellphone video.
“Because you have a weapon,” the officer responds, despite no evidence that he did.
“What weapon, what weapon, huh?” the teen says. “You look dumb, bro.”
The footage was first posted to subreddit “Bad_Cop_No_Donut” with the caption: “Fairfax Police Department pointing their guns and threatening to kill me for recording their arrest last night.” The video also made its way to Twitter and went viral, with millions of views.
Now the two officers involved are being investigated for how they handled the encounter with the young bystander.
“I assure you that a thorough investigation will take place and that its findings will be shared with our community,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay said in a statement on Twitter.
Police say they were called to a local IHOP on July 9 after a group of three to four teens had allegedly brandished what appeared to be a gun in front of the hostess of the restaurant. Though the teens left, they allegedly returned later and waited outside for an employee.
When police arrived at the IHOP, around 7 p.m., the teens fled to a nearby parking lot, the department said. In the chase, officers managed to detain two of them and did not find weapons on either.
As police investigated the two teens they caught fleeing, another teenager who was not involved in the confrontation at IHOP walked past the scene and began to film the officers detaining the duo.
“Oh what the fuck, bro?” he can be heard saying on video. “Two feds, bro?”
“Hey, stop him!” one of the officers can be heard ordering another officer. The responding officer can then be seen turning and walking toward the cellphone camera as she draws her gun.
Another officer approaches with his gun drawn, and they proceed to tell the teen to get on his knees and on the ground, before the 21-second video ends.
The teen did not immediately respond to VICE News’ messages requesting comment.
In a statement, the department said the officers thought the person who began filming them was one of the other teens who managed to escape during the chase minutes earlier.
“Due to the nature of the call and not locating a weapon, officers ordered the subject to the ground at gunpoint,” police said. “Officers determined the juvenile was holding a cellphone and filming. The three juveniles were detained and later released to their parents.”
While Fairfax police say they only stopped and detained the teen because they thought he posed a possible threat, other states are actively cracking down on people’s right to record police activity. Just last week, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law barring citizens from recording officers from any closer than eight feet. Florida and Oklahoma have passed similar laws in recent years.