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After arrest and pepper spraying of Norfolk teen, family lawyer wants independent investigation

Virginian-Pilot - 10/10/2018

Oct. 10--NORFOLK -- The lawyer for the 16-year-old Granby High School student arrested and pepper sprayed by police said Wednesday he doesn't believe the Norfolk Police Department can impartially investigate the two officers involved in the incident.

Attorney Don Scott called for the department to tap an outside agency to investigate or to bring in civilian oversight.

"I'm not confident based on what I saw in that video," Scott said, referring to the fairness of an internal investigation. "No one should be confident."

Two officers saw the 16-year-old walking in the road in the 200 block of E. 19th St. around 12:50 p.m. Monday and stopped him because they thought he might be skipping school, Norfolk police said in a statement. During the interaction, one of the officers pepper sprayed the teen. Paramedics treated him at the scene, and he was released to his parents.

Several videos of the arrest are circulating on social media.

A witness, 38-year-old Larry Ricks, said he saw the entire encounter while he was on the way to work out on his lunch break. He watched as the officers pulled out of the Cook Out parking lot in a cruiser.

The car braked, Ricks said. Both officers got out, one of them grabbing the teen, who tried to pull away. Meanwhile, the other pepper sprayed him in the face.

Then they arrested, handcuffed and tried to search the teen as he repeatedly swore at them, Ricks said.

The officer who used the pepper spray was the only one who talked with Ricks, who praised him for keeping an open line of communication. The officer offered different explanations for stopping the teen. At first, he told Ricks they just wanted to talk with him, but he "gave us attitude." Later, he mentioned a string of break-ins in the area.

The officer eventually found a pencil in the teen's pocket. "See, he could've stabbed me in the face with this pencil," Ricks remembers the officer saying.

Ricks said he laughed while thinking, "You've gotta be kidding me right now."

Scott reacted to Ricks' account of the pencil.

"So every kid who goes to school in Norfolk is a suspected criminal?"

The young man's mother is demanding the two officers be placed on administrative duty until the investigation is finished, family spokesman Michael Muhammad said.

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(c)2018 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

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