Daily Mail reports:
A police officer from Arlington, Texas, is winning praise on social media Thursday after he was filmed making a teenager who smoked marijuana do push-ups instead of jail time.
Eric Ball of the Arlington Police Department was off-duty at an Arlington movie theater when someone informed him there was a teenager outside smoking pot, according to WFAA-TV.
When Ball went outside to investigate, he saw the teen throwing his joint away. The smell of marijuana, however, gave him away.
The officer then gave the teen, both of whom are black, a choice – either do 200 push-ups or go to jail.
‘He could have very well arrested this teen, but instead tried to do something better,’ Lt. Chris Cook of the APD told WFAA-TV.
The name of the teenager is not known, but police say he was about 17 years old. Cook said the teen was respectful toward Ball during their encounter.
The teen’s mother was inside the movie theatre during the incident.
Afterward, the officer found her and she gave him a hug and thanked him.
‘She gave a stern warning to her son and even told the officer, “I would have made him do more push-ups”,’ Cook said.
A Texas resident, Raiza Paradez, posted the clip on her Facebook page. It was viewed over 128,000 times, shared over 1,500 times, and received 1,600 likes as of this writing.
‘Big UP’s to the Arlington Police Officer that made the young black guy that decided to smoke weed on the movie theater parking lot to do push-ups then take him to jail or shoot him just Cuz,’ Paradez wrote.
‘We need more cops like this.’
Paredez wrote on her Facebook page that she was walking by the officer and the teen doing pushups and asked if she could record the incident on her cell phone.
‘I know that officer. And what he did probably served a better purpose for that young man than putting him in jail,’ wrote another user.
‘Great work Eric. You know I would’ve done the same thing.’
Social media commenters said the prevalence of young black men going to jail for relatively minor offenses like smoking marijuana makes this incident a welcome change.
‘[Shout out] to that [officer],’ another Facebook user wrote. ‘Knowing the petty crime of marijuana but deciding NOT to throw his life in the balance by incriminating him.’
‘Man, this guy is inspiring. Good vid.’
Not everyone was as complimentary.
While acknowledging that the officer did show leniency, some commenters on Facebook noted that the officer allowed a teenager who broke the law to avoid punishment.
‘He [is] letting a kid go who is breaking the law. Where do you draw the line on who gets let go and who gets arrested?’ wrote one Facebook user.