A 24-second video making the rounds online last week appeared to depict a shocking scene.
Two Burlington police officers appeared to stand idly by on a downtown street corner while a man injected something into his arm. The video, uploaded by a YouTube user who goes by Zack Rose, was titled, "Two Burlington Vermont cops watching a junkie tie off and shoot up heroine [sic]!"
"The guy's shooting up right in front of two cops, and they're just letting him," a man says in the video, shot at Church and Pearl streets. "I didn't even know that was legal."
By Tuesday afternoon, the clip had about 21,800 views — 10,000 more than it did when it started circulating last week. Social media users chattered about it online.
In fact, it got so much attention that acting Burlington Police Chief Jan Wright was forced to issue a statement — one that debunked the whole thing. According to Wright, the year-old video didn't capture anywhere near the full story.
The two officers, according to a police incident report, stopped to chat with the man after seeing him inject "an unknown substance into his right arm." The man told police he was a "water diabetic" and was treating himself, according to the report. The cops advised the man to inject in a more private place because "people would be concerned about him."
With that, both sides went on their way.
"We fully support the actions of these two officers: being inquisitive during their shift, and completing a thorough investigation while both treating this man with respect and availing him of referrals to the resources he may need," Wright wrote.
The moral of the story? "Don't believe everything you see on the internet," Burlington Police Detective Sgt. James Trieb told Seven Days. "We get complaints all the time, and that's why it's important to be thorough and get all the information before we strike judgment."