Harford 911 tape reveals city officer's call for help

Male voices in background can be heard yelling racial epithets and threatening harm

May 07, 2010|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

An off-duty Baltimore police officer who called 911 after being struck in an eye with a glass beer mug calmly but urgently requested backup as men hurled racial epithets and threatened to hang him, according to a copy of the tape obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

A Harford County district judge lifted the $1 million bond set by a court commissioner and ordered Friday that the Joppa man accused of striking Detective Jermaine Cook be held without bond. James Aaron Kimble, 20, who is charged with first-degree assault and hate crimes, will remain in jail pending trial.

During a four-minute call, Cook tells a dispatcher that he "can't see anything" as he calls for a "Signal 13," police code for an officer in distress. Later, at least one male voice can be heard in the background yelling that he will beat "your [racial slur] ass" and talks about hanging him.

Kimble was arrested by sheriff's deputies after he emerged from a wooded area early Thursday, yelling racial epithets and insisting that he had been stabbed with a knife, police say. Monica Worrell, a spokeswoman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, said the only injuries he sustained were to his hand, consistent with cuts from broken glass.

Cook, 33, a six-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, underwent a second round of surgery at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute on Friday. His prognosis was unknown, but doctors said Thursday that he could lose sight in his left eye.

Kimble's stepfather alleged in an interview that Cook's vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign and nearly hit Kimble. He called the incident the result of a "two-way altercation" involving two "loudmouths," and said hate-crime charges were filed only because the officer is black.

The call starts with Cook, seated in his vehicle, identifying himself as a city police officer and requesting help. He tries unsuccessfully to give a tag number for a vehicle he says the suspects are climbing into, saying he is having trouble seeing.

As he is talking, male voices can be heard in the background, and Cook reasserts that he needs help. "I need a bunch of you guys down here," he says.

Cook tells the dispatcher that he was hit in the face with a bottle. A man starts yelling, "He didn't hit you with no bottle. He hit him with a fist."

"I'm unarmed," Cook says. "I'm not even carrying a gun. I've got, like, eight guys out here right now."

A man asks what is going on. "Look, man, I have no idea," Cook replies.

A male can be heard yelling, "Let's hang him right now," and, "I'll beat your [racial slur] ass."

Cook tells the dispatcher: "I'm in my car right now. I'm unarmed. I have no gun, no knives, no nothing. He hit me with a cup that he was drinking liquor out of and cut me in my eye."

City police corrected their initial account Thursday that Cook was returning home from work when the altercation occurred about 2:20 a.m. Officers are required to carry their weapon while going to and from work.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi declined to say Friday where Cook was returning from, saying that it was "personal."

Asked by the dispatcher what the attacker looks like, Cook describes him as white and heavyset. A male voice in the background yells, "Man, I'm [expletive] heavyset. It's me. [Expletive] kick your ass."

The man continues to shout in the background, and Cook tells the dispatcher that the man is talking about hanging him. When a sheriff's deputy arrives on the scene, a man can be heard yelling, "He started [this fight]."

"Started what, sir?" Cook asks.

"Pulled a [expletive] knife on my cousin," the man says.

"I have no knife. I'm unarmed," Cook says.



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