Bangor police and the brother of a 13-year-old boy seen in multiple videos being pinned to the ground by officers near a city youth shelter gave conflicting accounts of the altercation on Friday. The videos have been widely shared on social media.
Devin Gardner said officers broke his brother’s elbow while trying to handcuff him on Tuesday night. Police spokesman Sgt. Wade Betters denied the accusation, saying that no one connected with this incident was injured while in police custody.
“He has a cast on right now,” Gardner said Friday. “Honestly, I think [police] handled it pretty crappy.”
“If we had reason to believe either one of the juveniles had broken a bone or needed any type of medical help we would have made sure they’d have gotten it before releasing them,” Betters said Friday night.
In a statement released earlier Friday, Betters said that the 13-year-old, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, “was verbally and physically uncooperative” with officers.
“He was placed into custody, cited and released in accordance with Juvenile Community Corrections and [Maine Department of Health and Human Services] protocols,” Betters said.
A 16-year-old also was briefly taken into custody, he said.
Betters said no one was injured during the arrest.
In the videos, three Bangor officers are seen pinning the boy to the hood of a police cruiser and then trying to put him in the back seat before he breaks away. The three officers then pin him to the ground and subdue him.
Police said they were investigating a trespassing complaint made shortly after 7 p.m. on Tuesday by the management of Shaw House youth shelter, when the officers saw the teens smoking cigarettes. Maine State law prohibits persons under 21 years from purchasing tobacco.
The officers reportedly told the teens to throw away their cigarettes and when the 13-year-old did not, and declined to give his name, Betters said police took him into custody.
Gardner said the officers overreacted.
“He was being a bit mouthy, but the police were arresting him for smoking a cigarette,” he said. “How often does somebody get arrested for smoking a cigarette?”
The 13-year-old was cited for possession and use of tobacco and charged with refusal to submit to arrest. The 16-year-old, who is from Winterport, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child for giving the 13-year-old the cigarette.
“I am pretty confident that had they [the teenagers] behaved differently, the officers would have given them a break,” Betters said.