Justice Department Probes Charge Of Police Brutality

November 07, 1990|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating charges that two county police detectives brutalized and threatened to kill a Crofton man while attempting to get information about the man's brother, who is wanted on charges of assaulting and kidnapping a police officer.

"The matter is under review," said Justice Department spokeswoman Obern Rainey. "After the review, the determination will be made as to whether the incident was a violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes."

Rainey said the department initiated the investigation into the allegations after reading newspaper accounts of the Sept. 21 incident.

After the review is complete, she said, the department could decide to prosecute.

"But that is far in the future," Rainey said. "It's in its very preliminary stages."

Michael Rogers, 21, filed a complaint in September in Montgomery County District Court against county police detectives Earl Fowlkes and Brian Sappington, saying they they kidnapped him Sept. 21 from a High's convenience store on Connecticut Avenue in Kensington. According to the complaint, the detectives held him for an hour and threatened to kill him by holding a gun to his head.

Montgomery County police are still investigating the complaint and will turn a report over to the Montgomery State's Attorney's Office, which will determine if charges should be placed.

Gordon Brumback, Michael Rogers' attorney, said his client has met with federal investigators, given them a written statement and taken a polygraph test.

"My client passed it (the polygraph) with flying colors," he said.

Anne Arundel County police are looking for Rogers' 24-year-old brother, Harold, on charges of assaulting a police officer in August.

During that incident, police say, Officer Janice Schwartz was taking Harold Rogers from the District Court Commissioner to the County Detention Center, where he was to await trial on a theft charge.

Police say Schwartz felt sorry for the man when he complained that he was sore from being handcuffed with his hands behind his back all day. She moved the handcuffs to the front and allowed him to sit in the front seat of her patrol car.

While they were stopped at a traffic light on Ridgely Avenue in Annapolis, Harold Rogers punched Schwartz, smashed her head against the window and took her gun, police say.

Rogers then forced Schwartz to drive to Route 3 in Crofton, where he met his wife, Sharon, and escaped with her in the officer's car, police say.

The car and her gun were found later.

Harold Rogers is still missing, and warrants charging him with assault with intent to murder, robbery and kidnapping have been issued.

County police spokesman Officer V. Richard Molloy said the department "welcomes the investigation. But it would be inappropriate for us to comment on an ongoing investigation."

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