Hearings Continue In Brutality Case Against 2 Police Officers

August 07, 1991|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff writer

A police internal affairs review board will conclude hearings next week in a highly publicized case involving two Howard County police officers accused of excessive force.

Officers Victor Riemer and Ricky Johnson this week appeared not only before the review board but before members of the public and the press, who were allowed to attend when the officers waived their right to a confidential hearing.

Expected to testify in coming days will be the Maryland NAACP president, the Rev. John Wright, and state police investigators who lastyear conducted an extensive investigation into the alleged victims' background.

The hearing, which opened Monday, is set to continue today, and Monday through Friday of next week.

An attorney representing the officers, Clark F. Ahlers of Columbia, questioned witnesses this week about what they saw during a confrontation on Jan. 5, 1990,when Riemer and Johnson allegedly pushed and assaulted two brothers at a party of teen-agers.

Moments before the hearing began, emotions flared as Ahlers and Wright -- a potential witness against the officers -- stared each other down in the hearing room.

Ahlers accused Wright of leading a band of "street thugs" against the police. Wright assisted the two brothers in filing complaints against Riemer and Johnson.

The case against the officers has attracted a stream of publicity during the last 18 months, particularly after one of the alleged victims in the excessive force complaint -- Carl Jonathan Bowie,19, of Columbia -- was found hanged to death four months after the incident.

Although police ruled no foul play in Bowie's death, members of his family and the Columbia community criticized county policefor what they perceived as a lack of interest in investigating the case.

The alleged excessive force incident occurred at the Red RoofInn in Jessup during a party given by Bowie and several friends. At the party, police say, alcohol was served to minors.

Bowie's twin brother, Mickey, told the three-member trial board yesterday that Johnson poked him with a flashlight and Riemer put him in a choke hold and smashed his face into pavement outside the motel room.

County prosecutor Mark D. McCurdy, who is leading the case against the officers, showed the board pictures of Mickie Bowie that allegedly were taken immediately after the alleged assaults. Bowie's face appeared bloody and bruised.

The assault case already has been investigated by a county grand jury and the Maryland State Police, both of whom chosenot to bring charges against the officers.

Former Police Chief Frederick W. Chaney opted to go forward with internal affairs charges against the officers, who could face dismissal if found guilty.

At one point during the hearing, Ahlers asked Mickie Bowie why he had enlisted Wright's help and did not try and pursue charges against the police himself.

Wright has filed several internal-affairs complaints against police in the past on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"We went to Rev. Wright because we didn't know what to do. He guided us through it," Mickie Bowie said.

Also expected to testify is state police Sgt. R.L. Caple, who investigated Jon Bowie's death last year and interviewed more than 500 people about the case.

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