For po­lice, in­creas­ing scru­tiny, pres­sure

They feel pub­lic ex­pects of­fi­cers to stop vi­o­lence while be­ing ha­rassed

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Rec­tor

In the mid­dle of an East Bal­ti­more street, three po­lice of­fi­cers strug­gled to sub­due an al­leged drug dealer as a gath­er­ing crowd screamed ob­jec­tions and recorded the of­fi­cers’ every move.

A video of the in­ci­dent last week quickly racked up tens of thou­sands of views on Face­book. The footage shows an of­fi­cer push­ing the man’s chest onto the pave­ment and plac­ing a knee on his lower back.

Forty-seven-year-old Cur­tis Myers twists his body in protest.

“Yo, get off my stom­ach,” Myers says, and the crowd erupts: “Get off his stom­ach!” “He can’t breathe!”

By the time the con­fronta­tion was over, one of­fi­cer had a dis­lo­cated shoul­der and two men were ar­rested — Myers on charges of il­le­gal drug posses­sion and re­sist­ing ar­rest, and a sec­ond man, Martez Buck­ner, 29, on charges of ob­struc­tion and hin­der­ing and re­sist­ing ar­rest.

Some wit­nesses at the scene and com­menters on Face­book saw po­lice ha­rass­ment of cit­i­zens in the video. Oth­ers saw cit­i­zen ha­rass­ment of po­lice. The Po­lice Depart­ment says a re­view of the video and of­fi­cer body-cam­era footage de­ter­mined the of­fi­cers acted ap­pro­pri­ately in the face of an ag­gres­sive crowd.

The depart­ment also says the in­ci­dent cap­tured in the video, while alarm­ing, isn’t par­tic­u­larly sur­pris­ing. Of­fi­cials say it re­flects the daily re­al­ity for of­fi­cers re­spond­ing

pa­trolling the east side in 2001, he said, is that to crime in the city. back then, po­lice of­fi­cers likely would have

“It shows you how quickly a scene can used more force to take Buck­ner to the turn chaotic,” said T.J. Smith, the de­part­ground as he re­sisted ar­rest. ment’s chief spokesman. “They sim­ply try to Smith said po­lice of­fi­cers are out do­ing ar­rest those who are deal­ing drugs, and they their jobs every day, and the vast ma­jor­ity of have to deal with a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment as a Bal­ti­more­ans sup­port those ef­forts. re­sult.” just to­tally dis­re­spected the po­lice of­fi­cers. demned if they use force re­gard­less of “The peo­ple hoot­ing and hol­ler­ing and

Smith said of­fi­cers were on foot pa­trol in They in­vaded their per­sonal space when the whether they are in dan­ger them­selves. act­ing like that aren’t rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the the city’s Broad­way East neigh­bor­hood of­fi­cers were at­tempt­ing to do the job they “Yes, they’re hes­i­tant,” said Ryan, the city as a whole. We’re not pre­pared to be­lieve about 1 p.m. Aug. 9 when they ob­served a are sworn to do.” union pres­i­dent. “They don’t want to be that that,” Smith said. “The peo­ple who want drug deal un­der­way. Myers, the man al­legSome on the scene dis­agreed. Buck­ner’s of­fi­cer charged for do­ing their job prop­erly po­lice to take drug deal­ers off the street edly deal­ing the drugs, fled into a va­cant fa­ther, who ob­served his son’s ar­rest and and go­ing to jail.” aren’t video­tap­ing it and aren’t yelling at build­ing, Smith said, and the of­fi­cers gave called it un­jus­ti­fied, said po­lice pro­voked the Ryan traces that hes­i­tance to the de­ci­sion po­lice.” chase. Myers jumped out a sec­ond-story up­roar. of Bal­ti­more State’s At­tor­ney Mar­i­lyn J. Marvin L. “Doc” Cheatham, the for­mer win­dow, Smith said, and climbed into a van. “The po­lice is not law­fully do­ing the job Mosby to charge six po­lice of­fi­cers in Gray’s Bal­ti­more NAACP leader, said po­lice must

At some point dur­ing Myers’ ar­rest, Smith the way they should,” said Clarence Buck­ner ar­rest and death — all of whom were ei­ther be held to the Con­sti­tu­tion. said, Buck­ner came to the scene and Sr., 61. “They take the law into their own ac­quit­ted or had their charges dropped. The long­time West Bal­ti­more man was at­tempted to stop the of­fi­cers from con­duc­thands and treat peo­ple the way they want to “I call it the ‘Mosby ef­fect,’” he said. “She party to a land­mark ACLU law­suit a decade ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He was then ar­rested treat them.” to­tally ru­ined polic­ing.” ago that reined in mass ar­rests for mi­nor as well — which ratch­eted up ten­sions Clarence Buck­ner said it was his van that Ryan said the union and its mem­bers of­fenses un­der then-Mayor Martin O’Mala­m­ong the gath­ered crowd. ley.My­er­sjum­ped­into,and­hisson—whointhe­sup­port­re­forms,but­donot­want­to­cede­the

“He didn’t do noth­ing!” one woman sum­mer­time sells cold drinks out of cool­ers city to peo­ple who “want to take over the But he now be­lieves po­lice are do­ing too screamed. in the van — had sim­ply tried to close the van streets and try to in­tim­i­date the po­lice

lit­tle. “Every­body video!” urged an­other. doors when the of­fi­cers rushed him and of­fi­cers.” He also said pa­trols are un­der

Cheatham said he can name 20 open-air The of­fi­cers dropped a city­wide Sig­nal 13, be­gan el­bow­ing and shov­ing him. staffed — a point on which city of­fi­cials a re­quest for im­me­di­ate backup. At one He said po­lice then had his van towed agree. drug mar­kets in his Matthew A. Hen­son point, the of­fi­cer with his knee on Myers’ away, even though he told them they could Mosby did not re­spond to Ryan’s critineigh­bor­hood, in­clud­ing one on a short back pulled out his Taser — but didn’t de­ploy search it on the scene. cisms di­rectly, and said she could not stretch of Rux­ton Av­enue where four men it — as he swiveled his head around, try­ing to “My son Martez, all he did was walk over com­ment on Myers’ and Buck­ner’s cases. have been killed this year, and where ad­dicts keep an eye on those crowd­ing around him. by my van and shut the door, and the po­lice But she said in a state­ment the video “are able to buy drugs with­out even get­ting

Myers was taken to an area hos­pi­tal for started lock­ing him up,” he said. “They “il­lus­trates the dif­fi­cult job that po­lice out of their car.” mi­nor abra­sions from jump­ing out the shouldn’t have messed with my son. … My of­fi­cers face through­out our coun­try, not just “The prob­lem is the po­lice are tak­ing a win­dow, Smith said. Myers, who was on son was pro­tect­ing my prop­erty.” here in Bal­ti­more.” knee on open-air drug mar­kets,” Cheatham pro­ba­tion for a May drug charge, and Though crowds form­ing around ar­rests is Mosby said her of­fice and the Po­lice said. “All they are do­ing is driv­ing by. They Buck­ner were re­leased on their own reco­gas old as polic­ing it­self, and cit­i­zens film­ing Depart­ment are “work­ing hard every day to don’t talk to the guys and say, ‘You can’t do nizance af­ter their ar­rests. They could not be at city crime scenes has be­come com­mon­strengthen our part­ner­ships in the com­muthis.’ They don’t stop them.” reached for com­ment. place, the ac­tions of po­lice of­fi­cers in nity in or­der to suc­cess­fully pros­e­cute cases,” Cheatham said he hears of­fi­cers blam­ing

The of­fi­cer who dis­lo­cated his shoul­der Bal­ti­more have come un­der in­creas­ing and “refuse to al­low di­vi­sive­ness to de­rail the lack of proac­tive polic­ing in West was also trans­ported to a lo­cal hos­pi­tal, scru­tiny af­ter the death of Fred­die Gray from our ef­forts to make Bal­ti­more safer.” Bal­ti­more on the con­sent de­cree and the Smith said. in­juries suf­fered in po­lice cus­tody in 2015 For­mer Bal­ti­more po­lice of­fi­cer Peter re­stric­tions they be­lieve it has placed on

Lt. Gene Ryan, pres­i­dent of the lo­cal and a sub­se­quent U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice Moskos, now a pro­fes­sor at the John Jay en­force­ment tac­tics such as clear­ing cor­po­lice union, said he watched the video re­port that found a pat­tern of un­con­sti­tuCol­lege of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice in NewYork, said ners. But he said he isn’t buy­ing it. along­side top brass at po­lice head­quar­ters, tional polic­ing in Bal­ti­more. the video showed a rou­tine in­ci­dent in a city “This has noth­ing to do with the con­sent and be­lieves it shows more than a few The city is suf­fer­ing record lev­els of where big crowds have long treated street de­cree,” he said. “They’re giv­ing us ex­cuses by­standers threat­en­ing the of­fi­cers. vi­o­lence this year. Two hun­dred and twenty ar­rests as pub­lic spec­ta­cles. when they aren’t do­ing what they are

“It was out­ra­geous. It was ap­palling. How peo­ple were killed through Wed­nes­day. “This is what hap­pens,” he said. “It is sort sup­posed to be do­ing.” can you ef­fec­tively po­lice in a city that has no Some of­fi­cers say they feel they are un­der of nor­mal.” re­spect for au­thor­ity?” Ryan asked. “They a mi­cro­scope as never be­fore, to be con- What might have changed since he was

A video screengrab of Bal­ti­more po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rest­ing an al­leged drug dealer as a crowd forms around them. By­standers scream, and the of­fi­cers re­quest help.

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