District 5 Officer’s Investigation to Remain Closed
By Kevin O’Rourke
The results of an internal investigation into allegations of excessive force during an arrest by a District 5 police officer will not be released to the public.
Police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks said all internal investigations of the police department are considered personnel matters and are sealed, according to MyMCMedia.org.
Last month, Montgomery County Councilmember Cherri Branson asked Police Chief Thomas Manger to make public the results of the department’s investigation into an arrest of a 16-year-old male in August in Germantown. The arrest, which the MCPD confirmed was under investigation, was videotaped by a WJLA news cameraman and shows the officer allegedly roughing up the teenager.
Starks said, while the that the people involved in the case will be kept abreast of the investigation and notified of its results, the details will not be released to the public.
It seems the MCPD has the law on its side, under Maryland Public Information Act, records of an internal investigation cannot be disclosed. Records of an internal investigation would be considered personnel records according to Section 10-616(i) of the State Government Article and, therefore, could not be disclosed under the Maryland Public Information Act.
Section 10-616(i) reads, “a custodian,” (in this case the MCPD), “shall deny inspection of a personnel record of an individual, including an application, performance rating, or scholastic achievement information.” It is the police department’s contention that the results of the investigation of the officer’s conduct would be considered part of a performance review.
In the letter to Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, dated Aug. 15, Councilmember Branson states, “I believe it is crucial for this process to be thorough and I request that the results be made available to the public.”
A resident of Silver Spring, Councilmember Branson, represents the Fifth District which is the southern-most district in in the county and includes Silver Spring, Burtonsville and Tahoma Park, said in the letter that while she served on the County’s Charter Review Commission she pushed for the creation of a Civilian Review Board “to participate in the analysis of complaints regarding police actions. Such an approach has worked well in other jurisdictions and helps to ensure transparency in the complaint review process. I pushed for the creation of such a board specifically to address incidents like this one,” the letter states.
The incident in question occurred shortly after 7:18 pm on Sunday, Aug. 10 near the Corner Bakery Café at 19820 Century Boulevard in Germantown. The video which, was initially shot from inside the café shows an unidentified Montgomery County Police Officer speaking with four or five teenagers on the sidewalk outside the café, the officer then grabs one of the teens by the shirt and pulls him through the walkway back to his police cruiser in the parking lot behind the café. The officer pushes and pulls the teen, eventually handcuffing and arresting him.