Smartphone video of an El Paso police officer pulling his gun and pointing it at a group of children during a chaotic altercation in front of a Lower Valley recreation center has not only gone viral, it has prompted much debate and controversy.

Since being posted to Facebook on Friday (6/6), the 5-minute expletive-filled clip has garnered millions of views, tens of thousands of shares, and thousands upon thousands of comments.

The footage, posted by one of the kids involved who goes by the Facebook handle “Aj-king Stoner,” begins with the police officer holding onto the holstered weapon while standing over a boy seated on the sidewalk. A group of kids can be seen to his immediate left shouting obscenities at him. Seconds later, the policeman yells “back up” then pulls his gun and points it at the kids and shouts, “Back up M***** F*****s” before holstering his sidearm.

Aj-king Stoner
Aj-king Stoner

Reaction from the local community has been mostly one of outrage, at both the officer’s actions and the children’s (and mother's) disrespectful language. Although the opinions have been varied, most fall into three main categories:

(1.) Those who feel the cop was justified.
(2.) Those who believe the kids acted like punks with no regard for the law or the badge.
(3.) Those who think pointing a gun at unarmed children is never an option regardless of how ill-behaved they were being.

Below is a sampling of the type of comments that have been left on various media Facebook pages.

Ledy Snyder: EPPD had every right to react the way he did by pointing gun at kids. He is trained to protect himself from anything and anyone. Having asked the kids several times to back up, by them continuing to approach him, he doesn't know what the possibilities could have been.

Bonnie Jacquez: Theses kids could have easily taken him down and grabbed his gun and it could have had a very sad ending. Officer's actions very justified

Peggy Ligner: Pointing guns at children, even smart mouthed ones is not proper policing. This is not how to react to a situation. I know we don't see the whole situation but the police seem to be escalating things.

Teresa Callan: those kids and that mom are disgusting and should be shamed for their behavior !!! Those aren't sweet little kids; those kids are a few years away from a life in the penitentiary thanks to weak adults like the mom

Kelsie Vasquez: What is the matter with y’all. This is a trained police officer pulling a gun on CHILDREN. It doesn’t matter if they are “disrespectful” they’re kids and should never have been put in that kind of danger. This officer should be fired immediately.

Aj-king Stoner
Aj-king Stoner

The city and police department addressed the situation on Saturday with both a news release and a press conference. The written statement reads as follows:

On Thursday July 5, officers responded to the area of 6700 block of Sambrano on a criminal trespass call. A series of events unfolded while the officers were handling the call and culminated with the situation that was captured on video and posted on social media sites.

The Department’s Internal Affairs Unit is conducting an investigation of the incident. The involved officer, a 4-year veteran stationed at the Central Regional Command Center has been assigned desk duties pending the investigation.

The investigation “will determine whether the officer followed protocol," according to El Paso Assistant City Manager Dionne Mack. "We have assigned additional resources to ensure the investigation can be completed expediently," Mack added.

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