Video shows yet another confrontation between teens, police in Allentown

Walter Perez Image
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
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Police had to break up the fight, but now some are saying the officers went too far.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) -- There was much discussion in Lehigh County about a confrontation between students and police this past Friday in Allentown. Police had to break up the fight, but now some are saying the officers went too far.

It was a scene captured on cell phone video showing what the young people involved refer to as a textbook case of police using excessive force. But police and city officials say, not only is that not the case, but that the officers involved should be commended for exercising restraint against a hostile crowd of teenagers.

The melee initially involved teenagers, but then turned into a confrontation with Allentown police near the corner of 6th and Emmaus streets.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said, "You know, I don't know what's gotten into these kids, frankly."

In the video you can hear responding officers ordering the group of local high schoolers to disburse. That's when the situation turned physical.

Allentown Police Chief Keith Morris explains, "Individuals on the scene advanced on the officers and physically interfered while the officers were attempting to make the arrests, while those being taken into custody actively resisted arrest, creating a volatile and dangerous situation."

Seven students between the ages of 15 and 17 were arrested.

This comes on the heels of a string of violent incidents involving teenagers in Allentown. Last month, four cops were injured while responding to a massive fight near Allen High School, and a 16-year-old from Dieruff High School stands accused of shoving and punching a teacher during a pep rally earlier this month.

Jim Martin says it's a sign of the times.

"I grew up in an age where if I got in trouble with the school, I'd be in more trouble at home. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case any longer," Martin said.

Meanwhile, the students involved in Friday's incident will be charged as juveniles on counts including reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. But after seeing the video, the DA says he is going to push for new legislation for stiffer penalties against juveniles who assault law enforcement officers.

He explains, "These kids that I have seen involved in these incidents purely have no respect for authority, and that's of grave concern to me, not only as a member of law enforcement but as a member of society."

Allentown's police chief added, that's one more reason why the city will be equipping its police officers with body cameras as of next year.