Virginia Beach Police investigating forceful viral video arrest

Posted at 2:54 PM, Apr 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-09 14:54:54-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - Virginia Beach Police say they are investigating a "Use of Force" incident that occurred during an arrest that was recorded on a cell phone back in January.

The video was recorded on the cell phone of 18-year-old Courtney Griffith who had been stopped for a traffic violation in the 1900 block of Darnell Drive around 9:00 p.m. on January 10th.

"There`s some things I saw in that that I do not feel comfortable with," says Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera.

Cervera would not say what part of the video he's uncomfortable with, but did say he is questioning whether an officer stopped the recording and later deleted it.

NewsChannel 3 asked Chief Cervera if those allegations are true, if he could face charges.

"I’d have to contact the commonwealth`s attorney to see if that`s tampering with evidence," he says.

Courtney says she was driving while her 17-year-old friend Brandon was sitting in the backseat. She says she was pulled over for a broken license plate light, but the officer told them to get out of the car saying he smelled marijuana. That's when the video recording began.

Courtney uploaded the video to her Facebook page on January 27th and it has since been seen nearly two million times.

Virginia Beach Police say they were unaware that anyone had recorded the video until Thursday, but that the internal investigation had already been initiated due to the use of force seen in the video.

The department says they immediately began investigating the incident on their own based on the officer's self-reported Use of Force report and video captured from the officer's TASER camera that was submitted the night of the incident.

The involved officer has been placed on administrative duty after the video went viral.

Courtney was issued a summons for a charge of Simple Possession of Marijuana. That charge was dismissed.

NewsChannel 3 spoke with the attorney for Brandon's family who says Brandon was charged with assault on a police officer. Police would not confirm his charges.

The video shows what appears to be an officer coming in the car with a flashlight then what looks like the officer turning off the camera.

"Why did they hit stop on my video,” Griffith asks.

Griffith believes police then tried to get rid of the video -- she found it in her I-phone's recently deleted folder.

It’s another allegation Chief Cervera says he's looking into, but says he's examining the entire video.

"To the general public I’d like to say things will occasionally go not as we would like them. Occasionally things are going to happen. Sometimes officers make mistakes and sometimes we tell police they don't need to be officers anymore.