NYPD Busted Using 'COPS' Clip in Campaign Against 'Weaponized Marijuana'

The New York Police Department used 12-year-old footage from the reality showCOPS to illustrate what it called the effects of synthetic marijuana, Gothamist reported on Wednesday.


The video was shown during a press conference on Tuesday concerning what Police Chief William Bratton described as a rash of encounters with people using what he repeatedly called “weaponized marijuana,” including a brand known as K2.

While officials mentioned that the footage was taken out of New York state, it was reportedly not made clear that it originated from a 2003 episode of the show set in Des Moines, Iowa. It showed an unidentified man being taken into custody while naked and allegedly under the influence of PCP, after punching through a wooden fence. Lori Lavorato, one of the officers seen arresting him, told Gothamist that he was not arrested for PCP possession, and that he had no drugs with him at the time.

A spokesperson for the department said the footage was shown during the press conference “to depict the type of behavior sometimes associated with ‘excited delirium syndrome,’ a condition caused by use of PCP, K2 and methamphetamine, among other drugs. But when asked about documented connections between synthetic marijuana and the condition, the unidentified spokesperson said he was “not a doctor.”

Officials also showed video allegedly filmed in Brooklyn showing another nude man slapping the pavement and yelling as police approached.

The unidentified spokesperson told Gothamist that officials “never, ever said that it was K2 that the people [in the videos] were on.” However, the videos were reportedly emailed to local news outlets with K2 being used as both the file name and subject line.

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