A headline in Tuesday's Evening Sun said three Howard County police officers had been found guilty of violating departmental procedures in making three arrests at a party in Jessup in January. In fact, an internal investigation determined that the officers had violated departmental procedures in the arrests. The officers now face charges before a hearing board, which can uphold or set aside the charges.
Howard County police investigators have found that three officers violated departmental procedures while making arrests at a loud party last January.
The arrests set into motion a string of events that culminated with the hanging death of a Columbia man.
Police yesterday released results of the internal affairs division's 11-month investigation but declined to name the three officers, who will appear before a three-member administrative hearing board of police officials.
FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION
Attorney Clarke Ahlers confirmed that his client, Victor Riemer, is one of the officers facing disciplinary action. He charged that Police Chief Frederick W. Chaney forced investigators to find fault with the three officers because he was under political pressure from some residents of a Columbia community.
Ahlers said Chaney should not have released results of the internal affairs investigation and that it was done to mask the chief's "ineffective leadership."
"In releasing this information to the public, he violates his own general orders which prohibit the release of such information," Ahlers said.
Ahlers said he has complained formally to the county law department about Chaney's action and that he has notified the transition team of County Executive-elect Charles I. Ecker about it. He said he will file a complaint with Ecker after he takes office next month.
Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, a police spokesman, said Chaney released the investigation results because some of the information became public after Ahlers made statements about it.
"It would not be fair to the community not to respond to the matter," said Gardner, who denied that Chaney intervened in the internal affairs probe.
Gardner stressed that the charges against the officers were administrative in nature, which could result in suspension, demotion, transfer or termination if the hearing board upholds the findings of the internal affairs probe.
Some Columbia residents charged the three officers with brutality after an incident on Jan. 5, when police responding to a complaint of a loud party at the Red Roof Inn in Jessup arrested three Columbia men on misdemeanor charges. The men later filed charges of excessive force against the officers, claiming police beat and kicked them while making the arrests.
One of the men, Carl Jonathan Bowie, was found hanged from a baseball backstop on the grounds of Oakland Mills High School on May 4, and police immediately ruled the death a suicide. Bowie's friends and family disputed that determination and suggested that Riemer was in some way responsible for his death.
State Police and a Howard County grand jury investigated the fTC hanging and found no wrongdoing by the officers. The grand jury also cleared the officers of criminal violations in the motel incident.