A former Prince George’s County, Maryland police officer will serve a year in jail, followed by three more years of supervised probation for assaulting a handcuffed man.
Bryant Strong was found guilty in May of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office after assaulting Demonte Ward-Blake, 24, during a traffic stop.
State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy shared approval of the move, highlighting that officers who are derelict in their duty to protect the public “will be held accountable.”
“No one is above the law, and it is my job to enforce the law and to ensure that the public is protected,” Braveboy said in a statement Thursday. “I am pleased that today’s sentencing brings closure to this very tragic case for Demonte Ward-Blake’s family and this community.”
Strong was among officers who responded to a traffic stop in Oxon Hill, Maryland, on Oct. 17, 2019.
According to the statement, one officer unholstered his weapon, causing Ward-Blake to become “verbally agitated at the time.” Still Ward-Blake remained compliant and cooperative with orders from officers.
Ward-Blake was placed under arrest and, during a search of his person, pushed against the cruiser and was taken to the ground by Strong. The traffic stop assault left Ward-Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
Shortly after the incident, police contended that Ward-Blake’s injury was due to falling while trying to get away. That testimony was rebuffed by testimony from Ward-Blake’s girlfriend and another officer responding to the stop, according to attorney Malcolm Ruff, who represented the Ward-Blake family in their lawsuit against Strong and Prince George’s County.
The family’s $75 million civil rights suit against Prince George’s County remains ongoing, pressed forward by representation at Murphy, Falcon and Murphy.
Prominent cases through the firm include the family of Freddie Gray — the suit garnered a $6.4 million settlement — and Jordan McNair’s family. McNair’s case closed with a $3.5 million settlement from the University of Maryland after his death from heatstroke.