Police Officer Pulls a Gun on a Group of Children During Heated Confrontation: 'Back Up!'

Harriet Sokmensuer
Video: Texas Police Officer Pulls Gun on Children

A police officer who drew his gun on a group of children during an altercation in El Paso, Texas, last week is now under investigation after video of the incident went viral on social media, PEOPLE confirms.

The footage — which was posted on Facebook on Friday night and has since been viewed more than six million times — begins in the middle of the heated dispute between the officer and a group of kids, several of whom appear to be younger than teenagers. (PEOPLE has decided not to publish the video due to its content.)

Much about what led up to the incident and its aftermath remains unclear and the video, which is nearly six minutes, is not a complete record of what happened. The clip does not show the kids being violent.

The officer who drew his weapon has not been identified, though city officials said he has been with the department for four years and has been put on desk duty pending an internal-affairs probe.

The mother of one of the boys involved told the El Paso Times the situation intensified after her 15-year-old son was choked and brought to the ground by police. The altercation reportedly occurred near a recreation center.

In the video, an officer is seen holding on to a teenage boy sitting on a sidewalk while a group of mostly boys shout profanities at him.

Amid the yelling, the officer repeatedly yells “back up” as he briefly draws his handgun and points it at the children. Seconds later, he holsters his weapon and continues trying to corral the group, at one point pulling out a baton.

As the kids continue to curse at the officer, he and a second officer handcuff the same teenage boy seen at the start of the video.

Soon after, the boy who is filming the incident is himself taken grabbed by the officer, though it appears unclear why — and he is heard telling police he was filming the scene.

As the video spread online, El Paso city officials announced that they were investigating the incident, which police said occurred Thursday in connection with a reported trespassing.

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The officer was responding to a call regarding a criminal trespassing on Thursday evening, El Paso Deputy City Manager Dionne L. Mack and police spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said at a news conference on Saturday.

“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 city said in a brief statement.

Two people, an adult and a minor, were arrested on suspicion of interfering with a police officer, according to authorities.

The El Paso Times identified those arrested as brothers, a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old, further reporting that the younger boy had since been released from custody while the older boy was still behind bars.

It was unclear if they have been charged, appeared in court or retained attorneys.

Mack, the deputy city manager, told reporters at the news conference last weekend: “The whole investigation process with I.A. will determine whether the officer followed protocol, look at all of the related incidents that surrounded that, take an opportunity to [conduct] interviews, and go through that entire process, so all the facts and data are gathered before any conclusions are drawn.”

When asked what the department’s policies are for officers pulling out their handguns, Sgt. Carrillo declined to go into detail.

City officials said they became aware of the video Friday morning after it was shared online and reported on by local media.

The status of the internal investigation and a timeline on when it may conclude was not clear on Wednesday.