Cambridge police officers filmed allegedly beating Harvard student Selorm Ohene

17 April, 2018, 20:02 | Author: Wade Massey
  • A bystander's video shows four officers struggling with Ohene who was believed to be high on hallucinogenic drugs

The 21-year-old mathematics major was arrested Friday around 10 p.m. and charged with disorderly conduct, indecent exposure, resisting arrest and assault after officers found him wandering near the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Waterhouse Street without clothes on. The police said Mr. Ohene's friends reported that he had taken a hallucinogenic drug, although that could not be independently verified. Bard said videos of the event show that the officers standing around the undergraduate attempted to speak with the student "for a long period of time".

Ohene was reportedly violent and an officer punched him five times in the stomach to calm him down and arrest him. "Help me, Jesus!" The police struck him a number of times while on the ground.

The Boston Globe reports that the Cambridge Police Department last updated their use of force policy in 2011.

The clips, sent to authorities by a bystander, sees three Cambridge Police officers and an MTBA Transit Police Officer take down student Selorm Ohene.

A video of the incident, captured by a bystander, shows the officers grabbing Ohene's legs and taking him to the ground, and then one officer striking Ohene as the others try to restrain him.

"It's important to not gauge the officers' actions within the context of an ideal construct and to actually gauge their actions within the context of a rapidly evolving situation", Bard said.

Bard explained that after Ohene was brought down, he "contorted his body" in a way that pinned his arms beneath his body, thus making it impossible for the officers to handcuff him.

Asked why the student has been charged if the incident involves concerns over the undergraduate's mental health, Bard said the department is now working to decide whether the student's situation means he would be better served by "means other than the criminal justice system". Eventually other officers were able to pry Ohene's arm from behind his back and handcuff his arms and shackle him at the ankles.

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Ohene's lawyers said in a statement that the incident "continues to be a trying ordeal for Selorm and for his family". Mr. Bard said the report would be made public as soon as it was completed. "If anyone ever had to constrain an individual against their will, they will know it's a very hard thing to do", he said. The officers held him to the ground until paramedics arrived, placed him on a stretcher, and put him in the ambulance.

"The video also shows that the man wasn't compliant while he was on the ground", Bard said. I mean, the officers took the actions that they felt necessary at that time.

Cambridge Mayor Marc C. McGovern expressed concern about the officer's conduct and said the results of the investigation would be publicized. "Shortly thereafter, firefighters came and cleaned up the blood with bleach and water".

Drew Faust, the president of the university, said that although she does not yet know all the facts, the incident is "profoundly disturbing".

"We are interested in protecting the privacy of this victim of police violence", the student group stated. In most cases, the extensive training our offices go through results in de-escalation of unsafe situations.

The incident happened Friday night, and after viewing footage of the arrest on Sunday, McGovern released a statement, saying that while "Cambridge affirms Black Lives Matter", the slogan "must be true in practice as well".

McGovern went on to claim that policing in Cambridge "is far ahead of many communities across the country" and vowed that "as mayor, I will work with my colleagues to make sure that the horrific treatment of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement has no place in Cambridge".

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