MOBILE COUNTY, ALA. (WALA) - FOX10 News is continuing to ask questions after Mobile Police release body camera video from an incident involving teenagers two year ago.
It showed an officer pepper spraying McGill-Toolen High School students at the loop cannon. The kids had gathered there to paint it after a football win over rival, Murphy High School. So the question raised now, was this action necessary, or did police go too far?
FOX10 Investigates took a closer look at policies regarding the use of pepper spray. All the agencies FOX10 Investigates spoke to uses guidelines from the U.S. Department of Justice.
In the video, you see a Mobile Police officer shaking his pepper spray, just before using it in a crowd of McGill students. He shouted, "Start moving. Everybody's fixing to start getting pepper sprayed. Start moving."
An officer said he did it because, "The reason why the pepper spray was utilized because 100+ people standing out here is a safety hazard to the general public."
FOX10 Investigates called multiple police agencies in Mobile County and Baldwin County to try and find out their policies on the use of pepper spray. Chickasaw police sent me this document. It says: "Officers shall use no more force than is reasonably necessary to gain control of an individual or situation. Officers are authorized to use force consistent with the Use of Force model."
All the police departments that responded confirm they use the Use-of-Force Continuum from the Department of Justice.
Part of that says: "Officers may use chemicals such as pepper spray to restrain an individual." But no one was restrained in the loop incident.
Here's what former Prichard Public Safety Director Mike Rowland said after watching that video, "In most circumstances when an officer uses pepper spray, it's when he's going to make an arrest or he's being assaulted or something like that. In this case it didn't seem to be any indication of danger."
After the 2016 incident, then Mobile Police Chief, now Public Safety Director James Barber apologized for his officer's actions. Two years after the incident, a Mobile judge ruled that this body camera video must be released to the public for transparency.