BODYCAM: Cincinnati police arrest teens selling water in busy intersection

The teens were charged with resisting arrest and obstructing official business.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 2:55 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Cincinnati Police Department Tuesday night released more than 20 minutes of bodycam footage showing officers arrest two teens police say were among a group trying to sell water bottles to drivers in Roselawn.

Police say the teens ignored officers’ commands to stop darting in and out of traffic at Reading Road and Seymour Avenue, both of which widen to seven lanes at the busy intersection.

The incident happened Monday afternoon. It caused controversy after a two-minute video surfaced on social media showing the end of the ordeal, including the arrests, but not the lead-up.

CPD issued a statement Tuesday previewing the bodycam release:

“The cell phone video captured on the afternoon of Monday, June 27, 2022, only depicts a snippet of an incident that lasted more than 10 minutes. In an effort for complete transparency by the department and to explain the context and content seen in the cell phone video, we are releasing the full body camera footage of the two officers that were initially dispatched to the incident.”

Police said in the statement Tuesday afternoon they have no problems with teens selling water.

“We admire their hustle and understand they are just trying to make some extra cash this summer. But the location in which they are trying to sell water is dangerous, especially with them going in and out of traffic.

“As depicted in the body camera video, even with repeated commands to get out of the street, the group continued to go in and out of the roadway, impeding traffic and causing a major safety issue for everyone involved. It was our officers’ duty to make sure these teens were not harmed or were to cause any traffic-related incidents through their actions.”

Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils wrote a statement on the Support the Blue in Cincy Facebook group about what happened:

“As the officer told the young men, he didn’t have a problem with them selling water but the law prohibits people from walking in the street. He did this for their own safety, as our officers regularly see people walking in streets hit by cars. Only when the young men refused to obey the officer’s direction to stop breaking the law by walking in the street did he decide to write a citation. The arrest occurred only because some of the young men impeded the officer’s work and resisted arrest. The juvenile court judges and staff are well equipped to help teens like this find a way to make money legally and that’s what we hope happens for these young men.”

What happened in Roselawn

According to police, around 1:15 p.m. on Monday, officers were dispatched to Reading and Seymour after a caller said a large group of teens were selling water and running into the street.

When officers arrived, they saw several teens in the street, and one threw a water bottle into traffic.

CPD said one officer can be heard on the bodycam video telling the teen to pick up the bottle that was thrown. A second officer then told the group they can sell water, they just needed to stay out of traffic.

According to police, the group then became argumentative with the officers.

Police said the group received repeated commands to get out of the roadway.

“Pedestrian safety is a top priority for our department. These teens running in and out of traffic while selling water was of major concern to not only the caller, but our responding officers. This is an incredibly busy intersection and the last thing we would want is for a young person to be struck while darting into the street,” the department said.

An officer said a 14-year-old refused their request to get out of the street and “combatively remained there.’

While attempting to place the teen into custody, police said they continued to resist arrest and while this was happening, two teens approached and one tried to remove a fanny pack from the teen being detained.

The 14-year-old was placed under arrest without further incident.

According to police, while one officer placed the 14-year-old in the back of his cruiser, another officer was trying to place a 15-year-old into custody for obstructing official business after repeatedly refusing to get out of the roadway.

The 15-year-old continued to resist arrest while officers gave numerous commands to put his hands behind his back before they were able to place him into custody, police said.

After the teens were placed under arrest, police said another teen told an officer, “he got my bag, I need my bag,” referring to the fanny pack that they were trying to take from the 14-year-old.

Police said the officer unzipped the bag and saw what appeared to be a firearm inside. The teen told officers it was a BB gun. After examination, it was found to be a BB gun that was an exact replica of a Glock 19 and that teen was not placed under arrest.

Both the 14 and 15-year-old were arrested for resisting arrest and obstructing official business.

Police are asking people in the Roselawn community to offer locations where teens can sell their water while making money and remaining safe.

If you have any ideas, you’re asked to contact District Four Neighborhood Liaison Unit Sergeant Jeffrey Meister.

Cincinnati City Manager John Curp says his office is working with the teens and the police department to use what happened as a learning opportunity for everyone involved.

“The City Manager’s office has been working collaboratively with police, community and the youth involved in this incident,” Curp wrote. “We are viewing what transpired as an important learning opportunity for both CPD and community, and in partnership with our Collaborative Sustainability Manager Iris Roley, we are actively connecting the youth involved with opportunities that foster their interest in entrepreneurship and learning. This includes working with organizations such as UMADAOP, Executive Services, Youth at the Center as well as community leaders such as Reverend Damon Lynch III and Rufus Johnson.”

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