A video taken of two NYPD officers trying to move students off a sidewalk at Midwood High School in mid-March shows one of the officers wielding his baton, making physical contact with a student, taunting the students and then pulling out his Taser in an apparent attempt to intimidate them, while he asks one "You wanna ride the lightning?"

The video, uploaded by CUNY associate professor Alex Vitale, shows a woman yelling at some students at the school on the afternoon of March 16. While moving the students down the sidwalk, one officer, who's holding his baton already, can be seen lightly pushing a student forward. When the student tells the officer not to touch him, the cop responds by repeatedly asking "What are you gonna do about it?"

While still following the kids down the block, the officer then unholsters his Taser and tells the students "Pick that shit up again," and then "You wanna ride the lightning?" When the students cross the street, the officer tells them "You better walk away," before he stops following them. The officer appears to have his finger on the trigger of the Taser, though he never points it at any of the students, who have their backs turned to him as they walk.

The NYPD's patrol guide has a specific set of rules governing the use of a Taser, or a "concentrated energy weapon." Specifically, the guide lays out the following rules for when it's inappropriate to use the weapon (emphasis ours):

CEWs should only be used against persons who are actively resisting, exhibiting active aggression or to prevent individuals from physically injuring themselves or other person(s) actually present.

It is strictly prohibited to use the CEW on persons as a form of coercion or punishment and
on persons who passively resist (e.g., going limp, offering no active physical resistance).

The CEW should generally not be used on children, the elderly, obviously pregnant females, the frail, against subjects operating or riding on any moving device or vehicle (e.g., motorists, bicyclists, skateboarders) where the subject may fall while it is in motion or in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface.

According to Vitale, he began recording the incident when he saw the NYPD officer get out of his car and approach the students already holding his baton. He admitted he didn't know what happened before he witnessed the interaction between the officer and the student, but he did tell Gothamist that "when they approached the students, nothing was happening."

According to Vitale, while this was the first time he witnessed an officer pull a Taser when dealing with students, the attitude was typical of what he usually sees. "I see officers aggressively dispersing students from Midwood all the time," he told us. "Sometimes, admittedly there are fights after school and school safety officers, who are unarmed, will get the kids to move on," Vitale said.

He also criticized the officer's actions as escalating, the situation. "A cop saying things like that isn't de-escalation, it's escalation. It's the exact opposite of what we've been told they were going to be doing since Eric Garner." Vitale said you can see in the video that one of the students does in fact pick up a handful of snow at one point, but he dismissed that as a reason to pull out a Taser.

"A kid throws a snowball and the cop is going to start Tasing high school kids?" Vitale asked incredulously.

According to the NYPD's press office, "The video is under internal review."

[Update 2:15 p.m.] City Council Member Jumaane Williams, who had tweeted that his office was aware of the video, told Gothamist that he had spoken with the commanding officer of the 70th Precinct, who promised that he would investigate the video.

"I want to give the inspector and precinct an opportunity to get back to me about what occurred," Williams told Gothamist. "With that said, this is the kind of behavior many of us have been talking about, so we want to make sure officers are doing their best to de-escalate."

Williams also told Gothamist that his office would be reaching out to Midwood High to see if the school's principal knew of any past complaints about police interaction with students or if there was any kind of pattern of abusive language or behavior in those situations. Williams said that there had been an increased police presence around the school recently, and "this sometimes happens with an increase in police presence around young people."

The council member stressed that he wanted to reserve judgement on the video until he heard the results of the investigation by the 70th Precinct's commanding officer. "Police officers are human beings," Williams told Gothamist, "but we have an expectation that they're going to be trained to use their emotions in a productive way in a situation like that."