The Baltimore County Police Department’s Internal Affairs office is investigating its officers’ use of force during a frenzied scene in Woodlawn Monday after cellphone video footage captured by bystanders showed an officer repeatedly striking a 17-year-old boy with his fists while responding to a reported fight involving a man who was possibly armed.
Police spokesman Det. Trae Corbin said Wednesday that Internal Affairs “is investigating all aspects” of the arrest, which ended with a 19-year-old Woodlawn High School student armed with a “ghost gun” and a juvenile — who police said interfered with the arrest — in custody.
The 19-year-old, identified in charging documents as Keith L. Harrison, has been charged with possessing a loaded handgun and other misdemeanor firearms offenses. He’s been assigned a public defender and is being held without bond, court records show.
Harrison was also charged in June for possessing a firearm as a minor — Marylanders cannot own firearms until they’re 21 — but was released on recognizance, according to court records.
An Internal Affairs investigation is procedural when county police use force. The officers involved in the arrest — Officer Olumide Sokoya, whom bystanders recorded punching the 17-year-old in the head, and Officer First Class James Dutterer, according to charging documents and sources — are still assigned to their regular duties, Corbin said.
Pending or after the investigation, officers may be reassigned to administrative work, suspended or put on administrative leave.
Cellphone camera footage that surfaced online this week shows part of the altercation after police were called to a parking lot in the 6600 block of Security Boulevard near Woodlawn High School Monday afternoon, responding to a reported large fight and “physical disturbance where a subject had a hand gun,” according to charging documents.
Charging documents say that Dutterer arrived on scene around 3:15 p.m. and found Harrison in a wheelchair with “a large bulge in [his] front hood pocket.”
Body camera footage has not yet been released. In charging documents, police say the 17-year-old approached Dutterer as he was making the arrest and agitatedly questioned him about what he was doing. Charging documents say the teenager then “pushed into” Dutterer, and was ordered to back up; police say when the teen wouldn’t follow orders, Sokoya grabbed him by the straps of his backpack to pull him away from Dutterer and Harrison.
Police reports say the 17-year-old dropped his backpack and “assumed a fighting stance” toward Sokoya, who “immediately” went to detain him.
Cellphone camera footage from bystanders does not show the circumstances that led to Sokoya pinning the juvenile, who police said resisted arrest, on his side to the ground. Footage shows only Sokoya, who joined Baltimore County police in May last year, struggling to subdue the shirtless teenager, hitting him in the head repeatedly with his fists.
Another officer who arrived on scene, identified in charging documents as Ofc. Roussey, helped Sokoya handcuff the 17-year-old. Video shows another officer intervening as Sokoya sits atop the teenager.
The state’s attorney office hasn’t decided whether to charge the 17-year-old as an adult.
Charging documents say Harrison told police he had a firearm, but that it was stolen “after he was punched in the face.” When Harrison stood up, reports said Dutterer observed a gray and black 9-millimeter Polymer80 “ghost gun” in the wheelchair.
So-called “ghost guns” — unserialized firearms that can purchased in kits or in separate parts and assembled at home — were outlawed by the General Assembly this year; the legislature mandated that all firearms without serial numbers and certain gun parts be assigned a personal identification number.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. “has seen the video and requested a thorough review” of the arrest, according to county spokeswoman Erica Palmisano.
The county executive’s office said it will share more information as it’s available.
A list of Baltimore County employee salaries shows Sokoya earns more than $63,000 annually. Dutterer, who county documents show joined the police department in 2014, makes almost $79,000.