The Harford County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has accused Aberdeen police officers of “harassment, disrespect, foul language, kicking and stomping of one young lady, and other acts of brutal punishments” that violate the civil rights of black residents of the city.
During a press conference held Tuesday afternoon, NAACP leaders described a near-riot stemming from a Feb. 11 incident in which Aberdeen police arrested several black citizens – allegedly by taking “the law into their own hands by threats, viciously and forcefully attacking our African American citizens for no reason and certainly without justifiable cause.”
The incident unfolded when Aberdeen Police Officer J.R. Adkins approached a man who was standing outside of a convenience store in Aberdeen. Adkins and the man, believed to be Troy Maye, had been engaged in previous encounters. Adkins asked him what he was doing and Troy Maye said he was waiting for his daughter.
A verbal altercation ensued, attracting the man’s sister, believed to be Trashel Maye, and female cousin, believed to be Jasmine Brooks. The officer ordered Troy Maye to go across the street, and he and his family members complied. Adkins then got into his cruiser and pulled across the street.
It’s unclear what happened next, but Adkins called for back up as he arrested Troy Maye. At least one of the two female family members asked why Troy Maye was being arrested and both of them were arrested.
The 19-year-old female, Brooks, was allegedly knocked down and kicked, although it’s unclear which officers were involved. At some point Brooks’ blouse was torn and she was arrested in her bra.
Jerome Foster, Vice President of the Harford County NAACP, was not an eyewitness, but said Brooks was “abused, assaulted and humiliated.”
The young woman’s brother, believed to be Deon Brooks-Anderson, who had appeared on the scene and witnessed his sister’s arrest, then allegedly threw a trash can at police officers and ended up arrested himself.
Sgt. Fred Budnick of the Aberdeen Police Department, would confirm only the rough details of the incident.
“We did make several arrest in the 100 block of [E. Bel Air Avenue] on the 11th, the arrested generated some concerns by the NAACP, the HCSo has been asked to review the incident,” he wrote in an email.
According to Budnick, in that Feb. 11 incident, Troy Maye, 29, of E. Bel Air Avenue was charged with 2nd degree assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Three others were charged with 2nd degree assault, resisting arrest, hindering a police officer and disorderly conduct. They include Trashel Maye, 26, of E. Bel Air Avenue, Deon Brooks-Anderson, 18, of East Bel Air Avenue, and Jasmine Brooks, 19, of Perryood Drive.
As a result of the complaints and accusations from the NAACP after the incident, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal investigation of the Aberdeen Police Department and the officers involved.
Here is the press release from Zilpha P. Smith, president of the Harford chapter of the NAACP:
HARFORD COUNTY NAACP PRESS CONFERENCE
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 24, 2009
This press conference being held today by the Harford County Branch NAACP is to bring awareness to an incident that took place in one of our residential communities here in the City of Aberdeen. This incident involved members who are officers of the Aberdeen Police Department. We believe that the incident fell short of near riot conditions on February 11, 2009, which resulted in confrontation between several African American citizens and the Police and later having charges placed against them and jailed.
The NAACP and the citizens of Aberdeen commend our police department for the service that they give to the community and the majority of our police officers, regardless of race and gender continue to assist in making sure that Aberdeen becomes drug free and gang free. We continue to work with our Police Chief Randy Rudy and we want to continue a healthy relationship between the police and the citizens in all of our Aberdeen Communities.
However, acting on the behave of our African American residents in the Church Green area, we received many complaints of harassment, disrespect, foul language, kicking and stomping of one young lady, and other acts of brutal punishments coming from police officers. These are our officers who are paid by the tax payers to protect and defend us. These officers felt the need to take the law into their own hands by threats, viciously and forcefully attacking our African American citizens for no reason and certainly without justifiable cause.
We have made a request, that our Chief of Police seek an independent investigation of various officers of his department in reference to the incident Wednesday February 11, 2009. We also have requested under the Maryland Freedom of Information Act, copies of arrests records made by his officers on African Americans and copies for each officer in reference to the number of arrests. The Chief has assured us that he will request an investigation by the Sheriff Department of Harford County. We also will be requesting that other complaints filed at the Aberdeen Police Department be investigated where it involves certain officers.
We stand strong to our commitment in assuring that our African American citizens and others are treated fairly and that their will be no violation of their civil rights. As of Thursday February 12, 2009, the Nations oldest civil rights organization became 100 years old, and yet we continue to see prejudice toward people of color and other minorities.
The Harford County Municipal Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 128, which represents Aberdeen police officers, reacted quickly with a statement of its own questioning why the NAACP would hold a press conference on the matter before the internal investigation has been completed:
February 24, 2009
The Harford County Municipal Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 128, who represents the men and woman serving with the Aberdeen, Bel Air, and Havre de Grace Police Departments understands that the local chapter of the NAACP held a press conference today regarding an incident that occurred in the City of Aberdeen this month at Boys and Girls Club.
It’s our understanding that the incident is being investigated by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Unit and the results have not yet been concluded or made available. Therefore, it concerns the lodge that the NAACP would hold such a press conference condemning the actions of the officers on the date in questions.
This lodge will continue to support the mission of the Aberdeen Police Department and its highly trained dedicated police officers.
Sgt. David Betz, public information officer for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, would confirm only that Aberdeen police Chief Randy Rudy had requested the agency conduct an investigation into the matter.
“I can tell you that our agency is conducting an internal investigation as requested by Chief Rudy,” Betz wrote in an email.