WASHINGTON — The images captured on a smartphone by an ABC7 photographer showed a police officer circling a group of black teenagers at the Germantown Commons Shopping Center. He singles one out, grabs the teen, walks him away from the group and, before putting handcuffs on the teenager, appears to grab him by the throat.
Montgomery County Council member Cherri Branson (District 5) saw the video when it aired Aug. 13, and it raised a host of questions.
“I don’t understand the encounter,” she says, explaining that the video doesn’t show what happened up to that point.
“I’m wondering, you know, what did they do?” she asked, referring to the teenagers.
Not knowing what led to the encounter, Branson says it raises the question: Was there excessive force involved?
ABC7 reported that there had been two calls to police that evening: one complaint about someone smoking marijuana, a second saying that a group of young African-American men were fighting.
Branson has written a letter to Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger, asking that the incident be investigated and that whatever the findings are, that they be made public.
“It is absolutely incredibly important that there be cooperation between the citizens and the police,” Branson tells WTOP.
Branson says that if the investigation is deemed a personnel matter, it may be impossible to get the information made public. But given the mistrust among some communities, Branson says when questions arise, “there has to be some transparency and there has to be some accountability.”
Police say the incident is being investigated. It’s not clear whether the results will be made public. Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights contains a number of protections for police officers including in situations where disciplinary action is taken.