Baltimore County officials are investigating video of an arrest showing an officer striking a shirtless teenager on the ground.
A spokesperson for Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said the county’s top official has seen the video.
“Events preceding and during this incident will be evaluated along with body camera video from the officers involved,” the spokesperson said. “Baltimore County is committed to full transparency and will share more information as it becomes available.”
Baltimore County police said the 17-year-old boy assaulted an officer responding to a fight in Woodlawn, police said.
Two officers responded to the scene in the 6600 block of Security Blvd. on Monday about 3:15 p.m. and found a crowd of about 30 people, according to court records. Police were told a man in a wheelchair was carrying a handgun.
As one officer approached the man in the wheelchair, seeing a “large bulge” in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt, the 17-year-old “aggressively and suddenly approached” and asked, “Yo, what are you doing bro?”
The boy pushed allegedly pushed the officer trying to arrest the young man in the wheelchair. Both officers ordered the teen to get back, but he remained “aggressive and belligerent,” according to charging documents.
One of the officers, identified in court records only by his last name, Sokoya, grabbed the 17-year-old boy by the straps of his backpack and “forced him away,” according to court records.
“The subject immediately dropped his backpack and assumed a fighting stance towards Officer Sokoya,” police allege.
Sokoya tried to detain him, and the teen “actively resisted and began to grab ahold of Officer Sokoya,” according to court records.
They went to the ground and Sokoya got on top of the teen, telling him to place his hands behind his back.
The video does not show the moments leading up to the confrontation. The footage shows an officer on top of the shirtless teen striking him on the head.
Another officer arrived at the scene and helped Sokoya arrest the 17-year-old boy, according to charging documents.
David Folderauer, the union president of the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police, told WJZ that use of force is sometimes a part of the job.
“We don’t know the full story just based on the snippet we’ve seen right now,” he said.
And even with the video, it’s too early to tell what happened that day, Folderauer said.
“This is a difficult situation for our cops,” he said. “There’s clearly a crowd because everybody’s filming and they’re yelling and it makes the situation worse, and what they should be doing is . . . yelling at the young man to get on his stomach. Put your hands behind your back. That’s all the police officers are trying to accomplish there.”
Larry Greenberg, the attorney for the 17-year-old boy, said on Wednesday that the citizens of Maryland deserve better than what the officers pictured in the video have to off them.
“On behalf of the minor child and his family, we have seen many inaccurate reports regarding this horrible incident,” Greenberg said. “I encourage those who are quick to blame the children to wait for the truth of what happened and then you will see that police brutality has no part in our society. We look forward . . . to the promised transparency offered by various Baltimore County agencies. We know that the truth will show that the officer should never have struck the child in the manner that he did.”
The young man in the wheelchair with a gun is 19 years old, according to authorities. He was charged with multiple weapons offenses and is being held without bond.