Anne Arundel County to make police use-of-force changes after lawsuit

Changes are coming to police use-of-force policy in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, after a lawsuit was filed against three officers Monday over a 2019 arrest.

The suit, by Daniel Jarrells, of Odenton, claims that county police officers Joshua Shapiro, Daniel Reynolds and Brian Ranck used excessive force when they pulled him and a friend over and arrested him Feb. 14, 2019, in front of his mother’s house in Gambrills.

Video taken by a neighbor and included in the lawsuit shows Jarrells handcuffed and face-down in the road, while an officer kneels on the back of his neck.

“This hurts,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said about the incident during a virtual press briefing Tuesday. “It will hurt our community; I know it’s hurting people in our community right now.”

He added that he and county police Chief Timothy Altomare will be “announcing very soon an addition to our use-of-force policy, where we were not clear enough about the use of a chokehold. And we will be making that change in the next 24 hours and then reviewing that change.”

Pittman said the change will be announced Wednesday night at a special town hall with Altomare, Black police officers and other leaders in the county, at which residents will be able to provide feedback on the changes.

Pittman compared the incident to the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police in May, saying, “Thank God the results were very different, and I believe the intent was very different. … However, it’s clearly not the kind of policing that we train, and it’s not the kind of policing that we believe we are doing.”

Jarrells, who is Black, said in the lawsuit that the officers had no reason to pull him and his friend over in February 2019.

The suit says that the police followed them for a while, put on their lights and indicated for Jarrells to pull over for no real reason. Jarrells, the suit claims, continued to drive at a low speed for about a quarter-mile to his mother’s house, because he wanted to deal with the police there.

The officers drew their guns on the pair when they did stop, handcuffed Jarrells, put him in a police car, then took him out of the car, and one of the officers knelt on him.

When Jarrells said he couldn’t breathe, one of the officers said, “You can breathe.”

According to the suit, the officers had to write a second report two months after the arrest that contained a reason for pulling the two over. In the second police report, they said they saw Jarrells driving over the speed limit, that he had stopped past a stop sign, and that there were Lyft stickers on the two-door car. Lyft requires vehicles have four doors.

The police also said that during the 2 miles total they followed the car, they learned the owner of the car, who was not Jarrells, had been arrested on weapons charges.

The charges against Jarrells were minor and were dropped, the suit says.

Jarrells is suing for restitution as well as a change in the county police use-of-force policy.

Asked about Pittman’s announcement, Jarrells’ lawyer, Nicholas Bernard, told WTOP, “I can’t comment until I see the language of the change.”

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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