Inquiry launched after video shows Montgomery County officer striking man
By John Henrehan, FOX 5 Reporter
The internal affairs division of the Montgomery County (Md.) Police Department has opened an inquiry into the conduct of an officer who was captured on amateur video Tuesday afternoon striking a man and pulling the man by his hair.
It happened in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the Fairland section of Montgomery County.
Police were called to Teagarden Circle because of a dispute between a man and a woman over the ownership of a cell phone. A neighbor began recording amateur video when he heard one of the officers yelling at a man.
The video shows one of the officers putting on gloves, pulling out what appears to be a flashlight, kneeling down, and poking the man in the back. The man was sitting on a curb, but jumped up after being poked.
After getting the detained man to sit back down, the same officer began a scuffle with the civilian, at one point pulling on the man's dreadlocked hair, until the civilian broke away. The detained man again sat on the ground. A few seconds later, the policeman, with his arm and fist, clouted the man across his chest and belly.
The man who received the blow did not appear to fight back, and the other two police officers present did not physically intervene.
The videographer, who prefers to remain anonymous, told us, "All the gentleman was doing was just sitting there. Just taking it. He wasn't resisting or anything."
Although the video has almost no audio, the photographer says he heard the civilian repeatedly ask for the name and badge number of the policeman who hit him (and pulled his hair), and the officer declined to provide that information.
We asked Capt. Paul Starks of the department what civilians should expect in that situation.
"The rules say you will provide your name and identification number if a citizen asks you," replied Starks.
Another part of the video appears to show the civilian, upon his initial release, trying to observe the number on the roof of the police cruiser, but he was then pushed away from the car by the same policeman who pulled the man's hair and hit him.
Police confirm the man who was detained was not arrested.
Police spokesman Starks pointed out that the video, which starts and stops, does not appear to record all aspects of the encounter.
Starks said no one has formally complained of police misconduct. However, after reviewing the amateur video, the Montgomery County Police Department internal affairs unit has opened an inquiry.
Starks said all of the three officers who were at the scene of the incident Tuesday afternoon remain on full duty.