Two Annapolis residents accused of hindering police after officers stormed into their Bywater home in pursuit of a suspect earlier this year were found not guilty of the charges in District Court yesterday.
Judge Donald Lowman found Hope Yvonne Hunter, 41, of the 1900 block Copeland Street, not guilty of hindering police during the March 14 incident. The incident began when the son of a county police officer was shot outside the 1900 block of Copeland Street.
The judge also dismissed charges of resisting arrest and found her son, William Hunter, 22, not guilty of resisting arrest and hindering police officers.
Lowman acknowledged officers have the right to chase suspects into private homes, but said homeowners also have the right to seek an explanation.
Hope Hunter has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate allegations that Annapolis police used excessive force when arresting her and three other people. Hunter said she turned to the federal agency after the Annapolis police's Internal Affairs Division dismissed her complaint.
She said she has yet to hear from the federal agency.
Annapolis police spokesman Officer Dermott Hickey, one of the officers called to the scene back in March, said officers are disappointed in Lowman's verdict.
"Cases like this are scrutinized through a microscope six months later, with a defendant that is obviously not acting the same as they were the night of the incident," he said. "It would be nice to be backed up by the judicial system once in a while."
Three officers were taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center for injuries received during the melee that broke out around 10:30 p.m., as officers were investigating the non-fatal shooting.
A small crowd had gathered around a car with a radio blaring. Officer Scott Collins, whose injuries received during the incident will force him to retire, testified yesterday that several people in the crowd began hitting him as he and another officer tried to turn the radio down.
At some point, he said, Earmon Wallace, 22, got his flashlight and hit another officer in the back of the head. Wallace then took off, trampling over several officers as he ran into Hunter's home.
Collins and Officer John Miller followed Wallace into the home and found him in the closet, Collins said.
Wallace would not come out of the closet, Collins testified, and Miller pulled him out.
A struggle broke out. Officers testified that more and more people piled into the room, grabbing at their clothing and yelling at the officers to get out.
Miller testified that William Hunter became upset when he saw that his mother and 17-year-old brother were being taken out of the tiny bedroom.
Sgt. John Mellon tried to calm Hunter and was holding him with a "bear-style hug," the officer said.
"He became enraged and tried to break free," Miller said. "I told him he was under arrest and he was still swinging his arms."
William Hunter disputed that testimony yesterday, saying he was "instantly" grabbed by an officer after going into the bedroom to investigate the commotion.
"I was struck and pushed into the bathroom, handcuffed where I stayed with blood on my head," he said. "I was being choked, I couldn't do anything."
Hope Hunter testified she repeatly asked officers what was going on and never got an explanation.
At one point, she testified, she saw an officer's hand go up like he was going to hit William.
"I put my hand up and said 'Don't hit my child,' " she said. "An officer said, 'Put your hands behind your back,' and I did and the officer arrested me."
Officer Lisa Whiting testified that she escorted Hope Hunter out of the bedroom and Hunter pushed her.
"But I didn't arrest her, because I knew that she was upset and probably didn't know what was going on," she said, adding she tried to explain to Hope Hunter why Wallace, a family friend, was being arrested.