The Harford County Sheriff's Department said yesterday that it will investigate a loitering incident in Aberdeen last week that sparked a confrontation between police and several residents and led to the arrest of four people. The president of the NAACP's Harford chapter alleged that the arrests were racially motivated.
Police have charged Troy Maye, 29, and his sister, Praschel Maye, 26, as well as siblings Deon Brooks-Anderson, 18, and Jasmin Brooks, 19, who are cousins of the Mayes, with resisting arrest, second-degree assault and disorderly conduct. All but Jasmin Brooks, who lives in Perryman, are residents of Aberdeen.
"The sheriff has agreed to conduct an internal investigation into the actions of one officer" at the request of Aberdeen Chief Randy Rudy, said Sgt. Dave Betz, spokesman for the sheriff.
On Feb. 11, an Aberdeen officer asked Troy Maye to stop loitering at a convenience store on East Bel Air Avenue, police said. An argument ensued involving family members and neighbors and the officer called for backup.
"This is an area prone to loitering and alcohol consumption," said Sgt. Fred Budnick, a spokesman for the Aberdeen police. "The officer asked the man to leave, and the incident escalated from there."
Zilpha P. Smith, president of the Harford chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said during a news conference yesterday that those arrested were victims of police harassment.
"We see this as a racial issue," Smith said. "This officer continually harasses African-American residents in that area just because some of them have been in trouble."
Smith has called for the officer's suspension pending the outcome of the investigation. The officer has been assigned to other duties, Budnick said.
The county Municipal Fraternal Order of Police questioned the timing of the news conference before the investigation is complete and reiterated its support for the Aberdeen department.