2 Howard officers cleared in beatings

November 06, 1991|By Michael James

Two Howard County police officers accused of beating up twin brothers last year were cleared of the charge last night by a county police board, which ruled the complaint was not warranted.

The three-member trial board concluded that charges of excessive force and improper conduct with the public should be dropped from the records of the two officers, Victor Riemer and Ricky Johnson.

"I just feel relieved. I didn't know what to expect," said Officer Johnson, 30, an eight-year police veteran. "I wouldn't want any of this to happen again."

Officer Johnson and Officer Riemer, a five-year veteran, were accused of using excessive force against two Columbia men, Carl Jonathan Bowie and his brother, Mickey, who had been attending a party at the Red Roof Inn in Jessup Jan. 5, 1990.

The Bowie twins, 19 at the time, later said they were beaten that night as the officers tried to break up the loud party.

Pictures of Mickey Bowie presented during the hearing showed bruises on his face, allegedly incurred when Officer Riemer pushed his face into the ground. The Bowie brothers also said Officer Johnson punched Mickey Bowie in the eye and used excessive force during their arrests.

In May 1990, Carl Jonathan Bowie was found hanging from a playing field backstop at Oakland Mills High School in Columbia. His death was later ruled a suicide.

Officer Riemer admitted in a taped interview with internal affairs investigators that he had used force against Mickey Bowie but said that he felt the force was necessary because he was encountering resistance.

Former Police Chief Frederick W. Chaney brought the charges against the two officers after the internal investigation.

The trial board, made up of a captain, a sergeant and an officer, ruled unanimously that the improper conduct complaints against both officers and the excessive force charge against Officer Johnson be dismissed. The board voted 2-1 not to sustain the excessive force charge against Officer Riemer.

A group of about a dozen county police officers applauded and congratulated both officers after the findings were read in a hearing room at county police headquarters in Ellicott City.

Officer Riemer and his attorney, Clarke F. Ahlers of Columbia, both refused to comment about the trial board verdict. Mickey Bowie did not attend the hearing and could not be reached last night.

Mark McCurdy of the Howard County Office of Law, who acted as prosecutor in the case, said he was satisfied with the trial board's decision.

"It was their decision, and that makes it right," he said.

A Howard County grand jury decided last year to not pursue criminal charges against the officers.

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