Community raises concern after video of teen being arrested circulates social media

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A video is circulating on social media of a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office deputy arresting a teen. The incident leaves some people for and against the measures taken by the deputy amid a growing concern about police encounters nationally.

A few teens could be seen selling water at the same intersection almost every weekend, according to nearby businesses and the community. But that wasn’t the basis for the arrest. Deputies told NewsChannel 6 it was a traffic hazard.

“That is a whole child bruh. That is a child,” a bystander could be heard stating on the video.

It was shot at a busy intersection in Augusta showing the result of an encounter between a deputy with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and a teenager Sunday.

“It’s a child, you gotta think about it,” that same person said trying to get the deputy to consider the age of the kid, all while continuing with an apparent arrest as others watched. And then, that deputy reassures those nearby.

“Y’all mind y’alls business, I got this. I got this,” the deputy said.

We learned that the kids were seen more than once in the intersection of Skinner Mill Road and Boy Scout Road, but not just selling water. Deputies told us they were stepping into traffic in the roadway, which they say is a hazard.

Sunday, a deputy saw the kids getting into traffic again and met one 15-year-old with obscene language and then a confrontation that led to an arrest. But as soon as a portion of what happened hit social media, people began taking sides, praising the deputy and others supporting the kid.

Jennifer Taylor shared with us on Facebook, “Those boys are doing nothing more than what parents set up for their kids selling lemonade in neighborhoods. They just happen to be where the action is…and that’s smart! Go where the traffic is! And it’s not like that’s a hot spot for lots of traffic!”

Other reports on social media allege the child’s mother took him to a hospital and is considering a lawyer. We reached out to a local attorney to see if an incident such as this one could turn into a civil matter.

M. Austin Jackson told us, “Expert testimony would have to be called to show how a police officer breached the standard of care.”

The teen was charged with a misdemeanor, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and released to a relative, according to RCSO. There are no charges for selling the water. However, a spokesman from the Sheriff’s Office said you need to have a permit to sell anything on a county right of way.

“The first thing that a lawyer is going to look at is what are the damages,” Jackson added. “How was a person damaged from a certain incident. Was he or she injured? Are there medical bills?”

We spoke with Richard Dixon, Director of Police Academy in Appling and Athens, Georgia for tips on how to encounter the police. His tips include:

  1. Obey all lawful commands. Make sure police can see your hands. Know that they may be scared too.
  2. The place to argue is not in the street. Save it for what it was made for, the courts and the system.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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