The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department is facing serious backlash after a viral video on Monday showed deputies detaining three teenagers at gunpoint after bystanders had called 911 to report that the teens were being attacked by a man armed with a knife. 

The tense footage of the detaining, which has surpassed 9 million views on Twitter, shows the scene in Santa Clarita where police aim their guns at the young teens. The young men, whose ages are unknown, are seen with their hands up walking backward towards officers while bystanders attempt to plead with the deputies to assert the boys were in fact the victims. The teens were then handcuffed and put into squad cars. 

“It’s not them,” multiple people are heard yelling in the video.

“Put your guns down. They’re kids,” another person plead. “They weren’t doing anything.”

Robert Brown, the civil rights attorney on the case who specializes in cases of police misconduct, reports that the teens, two of which are Black, were sitting at a bus stop in Santa Clarita on Friday when a man approached them and asked if they had any crack. When they told the man to leave them alone, the man pulled out a knife and began thrusting it at them, causing the teens to use their skateboards as shields to protect themselves. 

The sheriff department claims another 911 call placed on Friday said that two Black men in their early 20s had hit another man in the head with a skateboard and they were responding to that call.

“I just can’t believe that the only way to handle this was to approach it with guns drawn,” said Brown. 

Multiple people at the scene called 911 to report the incident but when police arrived, witnesses report that they treated the teenage boys as if they were the criminals. In a statement made on Facebook, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he had “concerns regarding the tactics employed.”

“A call for service was received regarding a felony assault and the deputies detained those alleged to be involved,” Villanueva added. “The matter is currently being investigated.”

[via]