A video of six skateboarders being arrested by Hot Springs police is creating controversy that reaches far outside the city, spread through the Internet.
The skateboarders, who were violating a city ordinance, are claiming police brutality and some say the pictures back up their claim.
The video shows a 13-year-old being held to the ground by his throat. It also shows a girl being held in what appears to be a chokehold. Now, Hot Springs police are being bombarded with phone calls.
The tape shows Officer Joseph Williams putting two skaters in what appears to be a chokehold. It also shows a 13-year-old being wrestled to the ground.
Skater Skylar Nalls, 19, says, "All of a sudden, the officer came out of a store and ran up to the kid in front of me, a 13-year-old and grabbed him from behind. The kid didn't know he was after him and started choking him on the ground."
Skylar’s mom, Renee Lovett, says, "The language-Skylar says none of his friends talk the way the policemen were talking. He said the words that were used towards them, it was really bad language. He said none of my friends talk like that."
Hot Springs Police Department spokesman McCrary Means says, "If a subject becomes confrontational, the officer has a right to defend himself. There are certain steps: first of all a verbal command. Like I said, if that subject becomes combative, that officer needs to do all he can do to get that subject under control."
The Hot Springs Police Department issued a statement saying Williams is on paid leave while an internal investigation is conducted.
Eyewitness Bobbie Golden says, "The kids most definitely were out of line. They shouldn’t' have been skateboarding down here."
Downtown Hot Springs storeowner Bobbie Golden says what you don't see on the tape is the girl skater at one point jumping on the officers back while another was trying to pull the officer’s arm off their friend.
Golden says, "When the police officer asked him to stop, if he had gotten off his board and walked, there wouldn’t have been a problem at all but he didn't. He started telling him, ‘Let's go! Let's go!’"
The day this happened, June 21, was considered nationally as “Go Skate Day.” In light of that, some think the teens were setting up the officers to intentionally look bad. Reporter Melissa Dunbar asked the teens about that and they said that was not the case. They also told Today’s THV they carry cameras every time they skate.