Board To Hear Defense In Excessive-force Charges

Investigation Resumes Into 1990 Incident

October 23, 1991|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

A police trial board that is investigating charges of excessive force against two county officers will begin hearing defense testimony when hearings resume Oct. 30.

Mark McCurdy of the county Office of Law, who is acting as prosecutor in the case, said the trial board spent most of last weekend listening to taped statements from prosecution witnesses in the case against officers Victor Riemer and Ricky Johnson.

The board, which consists of three county police officers, began hearing evidence in August, then took a two-month recess. After hearings Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, the prosecution rested its case, McCurdy said.

Attorneys said a decision might not come for weeks.

The charges against the officers followed arrests made during a Jan. 5, 1990, beer party at a Jessup motel attended by local teen-agers.

Two of the partygoers, Mickey Bowie and his twin brother, Carl Jonathan Bowie, alleged the officers used excessive force while breaking up the party.

The case created a furor in the community after Carl Bowie was found hanged from a baseball backstop at Oakland Mills High School four months later. Although his death was ruled a suicide,friends of the family remain convinced that police played some role in it.

During the internal police hearing last weekend, board members listened to taped statements by four teen-agers who attended the party, including a statement from Mickey Bowie. Testimony by the teen-agers was taped during a grand jury investigation into the incident last year that acquitted the officers of criminal charges.

The internal review by the Police Department is not linked to the grand juryinvestigation, McCurdy said. The trial board could find that excessive force was used even though the grand jury dismissed criminal charges against the officers, he said.

"It's like comparing apples to oranges," he said of the two proceedings.

During the hearing Saturday and Sunday at the Hickory Ridge county office building, Mickey Bowie did not testify in person, McCurdy said. However, it is possible Bowie might be called as a defense witness at a later date, he said.

Clark Ahlers, a Columbia attorney representing Johnson and Riemer, declined to comment on whom he will call to testify, how many witnesses will be called, and how long the defense case could take.

"I don't want to try this case in the press," he said.

However, during the hearing last Thursday, Ahlers objected to Mickey Bowie's absence and argued that his case could not go forward without a cross-examination of his testimony. Ahlers criticized the trial board for not issuing a subpoena to bring Bowie to the hearing.

"What more does thisgovernment have to do for this kid?" Ahlers said of Bowie. "It's time to say, 'You've had your chance, kid. It's put up or shut up.' "

If the officers are found not guilty, the case is over, Ahlers said.If they are found guilty of violating police procedures, the board will recommend appropriate sanctions to the chief of police.

PoliceChief James N. Robey ultimately must determine the officers' punishment if they are found guilty, McCurdy said. Disciplinary measures could range from a reprimand to dismissal.

If sanctioned by Chief Robey, the officers have a right to appeal their case to the county's Circuit Court, Ahlers said.

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