Officer admits mashing teen's face Police board hears charges against 2 Howard officers.

August 07, 1991|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Evening Sun Staff

A Howard County police officer charged with using excessive force admitted to investigators that he pushed a teen-ager's face against a concrete pavement several times outside a Jessup motel last year.

Victor Riemer, a five-year veteran of the police department, told police internal affairs investigators last year that he wrestled Mickey Bowie, then 19, to the ground outside the Red Roof Inn on U.S. 1 during a struggle while breaking up a loud beer party and arresting the young man.

Riemer and a fellow officer, Ricky Johnson, are in themidst of an internal affairs board hearing that was continuing today. The policemen are charged with having used excessive force to break up a loud teen party Jan. 5, 1990. The two officers also are charged with violating rules concerning conduct with the public.

The case has created a furor in the community because one of the teen-agers involved, Mickey's twin, Carl Jonathan Bowie, was found hanged on a baseball backstop at Oakland Mills High School four months later, on May 4, 1990. While the death was ruled a suicide, friends of the family say police played a role in it.

In a taped interview played at yesterday's hearing, Riemer said he got on top of Mickey Bowie, who was lying face down, and put his forearm behind Bowie's neck. He said he pushed against Bowie's neck each time the teen-ager tried to lift his head, and the force caused Bowie's face to strike the pavement a number of times.

"He was struggling very much against me," Riemer said in the interview, adding that he pushed Bowie with his right arm while ** using his left hand to handcuff him. "I had to use some force."

"If he could have raised his head, he would have been able to get up," said the officer, whose muscular, 6-foot-6 frame is much larger than the teen-ager's medium build.

An internal affairs investigator asked Riemer whether Bowie would have been able to get up without such force being used. "I wanted to keep control," Riemer responded.

Riemer said Bowie sparked the incident shortly after the two officers arrived at a motel room to break up a loud party of 14 teen-agers.

He said Mickey Bowie grabbed Johnson's arm while Johnson was arguing with Carl Bowie. He said he grabbed Mickey around the shoulders and hoisted him outside.

Riemer said the teen-ager punched him in the chest before he wrestled the young man to the ground.

Johnson told internal affairs investigators last Aug. 19 that Riemer punched Mickey twice after Mickey punched Riemer.

He said in the interview that Mickey Bowie started the incident by grabbing his arm, first with one hand and then with both, and refused to let go. He said the teen-ager held onto his arm even after he used his flashlight to hit his right hand. He said Mickey Bowie caused him to stumble, and they struggled until Riemer broke Bowie's grip by grabbing him.

Johnson denied allegations that he hit Mickey Bowie in the eye with his flashlight. Both officers denied that Riemer used a choke hold on Mickey with a nightstick or a similar object.

Mickey Bowie insisted in his testimony before the trial board yesterday that Johnson hit him in the eye with his flashlight and that Riemer punched him in the eye.

Pointing to photographs of his bruised face taken by a friend the next day, Mickey Bowie said the blows gave him a black eye and his chin and face were scratched and bruised when Riemer pushed his face into the ground.

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