Police investigating arrest of 14-year-old at Philadelphia Zoo

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Child arrested at Philadelphia Zoo. Jeff Chirico reports during Action News at 10 p.m. on July 6, 2018. (WPVI)

An internal police investigation is underway over cell phone video showing the arrest of a teenager at the Philadelphia Zoo.

It shows two Philadelphia police officers taking a 14-year-old into custody on the ground outside the zoo, but some are questioning if their actions were appropriate.

The officers were summoned there by a zoo public safety officer who wanted a group of children to stop collecting money on the zoo plaza.

Philadelphia Police Captain Sekou Kinebrew said, "She flags down the police officer. The police officer stops, he engaged one of the children."

The video doesn't show what led up to the takedown. Zoo authorities claim one of the teens made a threatening comment to the public safety officer just as a police car was driving past.

Captain Kinebrew says an internal affairs investigation will attempt to determine whether the officers' actions and involvement were appropriate.

"We're looking at all of that, whether the issuance was proper, whether the control holds were proper, and the entirety," he said.

"I don't have enough information to say this wasn't handled perfectly. I don't believe it was," said Hans Menos of the Police Advisory Commission.

He questions whether police should have been involved at all. He says the recent Starbucks incident underscores his concern that businesses are sometimes too quick to call police on persons of color.

"I think we need to start thinking as a city, citizens, as corporations as businesses when do we want to infuse a police interaction into what we can handle on our own," said Menos.

According to the zoo, the same group has caused problems before, soliciting money from zoo guests, throwing rocks at and harassing zoo employees.

What may have been a long-running clash between two groups is now culminating in a very public way.

The 14-year-old and another man were both cited for disorderly conduct.

Zoo officials have agreed to meet with some concerned citizens groups next week.
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