Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. has requested a review of the actions of a county police officer captured on video punching a person he is straddling on the ground during an arrest in Woodlawn.
The video, which is circulating on social media but has not been independently obtained by The Baltimore Sun, shows a person on the ground underneath an officer. The officer strikes him in the face several times with his closed fist, shouting at him to “Turn around” and “Put your hands behind your back.”
The person on the ground appears to try to cover his head. The officer then forcibly pulls the person’s arms behind his back. At one point, the officer appears to put his knee on the upper back of the individual as he and another officer place him in handcuffs.
The social media video does not show the start of the altercation between the officer and the person being arrested.
In a statement, Olszewski’s spokeswoman Erica Palmisano said the county executive had seen the video and requested a review of the events that led up to the altercation and the officer’s actions, including an evaluation of body camera footage from officers involved.
“Baltimore County is committed to full transparency and will share more information as it becomes available,” Palmisano said.
In a Tuesday news release, Baltimore County Police said officers responded Monday afternoon to the 6600 block of Security Boulevard in Woodlawn for a “physical disturbance that reportedly involved an armed subject.”
Police said that as officers approached an individual reported to have the handgun, a 17-year-old assaulted the officer. That person was placed under arrest.
A 19-year-old man also was arrested, according to the release. Police said he illegally possessed a handgun.
The department confirmed Tuesday that the video on social media captured the end of the same incident described in the news release. The footage shows a second individual who appears to be in custody in the parking lot where the physical altercation took place.
A spokeswoman directed a reporter to Tuesday’s news release when asked questions including whether an internal affairs investigation had been opened.
Charging documents for the 19-year-old man describe that when police arrived, they approached someone who matched the description they received of a person with a handgun.
As police interacted with that individual, a different person approached an officer and asked what he was doing. Police wrote in charging documents that the second person “pushed into” that officer and was ordered to back up. He didn’t follow orders, according to police, and a second officer grabbed him by his backpack straps to force him away.
The charging documents say that after he was grabbed by the backpack, the person dropped it and “assumed a fighting stance.” One officer then tried to “grab ahold” of the person, who police say resisted, and the two “went to the ground,” charging documents said.
Police wrote that when the person “failed to comply with verbal commands,” the officer “began to strike the subject in the head with a closed fist.”
The officer who was involved in that physical altercation is identified in charging documents as Officer Sokoya. A Baltimore County salary database lists a police officer named Olumide Sokoya who was hired in 2021.
The individual Sokoya punched is a 17-year-old boy, who has not been identified by police. It’s unclear what charges he may be facing.
The 19-year-old man arrested by police is accused of having a so-called “ghost gun” in his possession. The General Assembly enacted a ban this year on the difficult-to-trace weapons that lack serial numbers or are sold in pieces to evade Maryland’s background check rules. Maryland otherwise requires people to be 21 years or older to have a regulated firearm.
Ryan Coleman, the president of the Randallstown NAACP, said Tuesday that he had spoken with a member of the Baltimore County Police who said internal affairs was investigating the incident.
Coleman said the video “raises some concerns,” but he wanted to see footage of the entire incident and the results of the internal affairs investigation.
“It’s concerning that there have been so many guns taken off students in Baltimore County Schools,” said Coleman, referring to the original call that came in to police. “The video of the police officer punching the kid raises some concerns. However, I will say that bad behavior is getting out of control.”
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“We’ll let internal affairs do their thing and let them come back with their verdict, and then I’ll see what that is,” Coleman added.
The president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge representing Baltimore County Police officers said Tuesday night there will be a thorough investigation and asked that people “wait for the results.”
“Police work is often a tough profession,” Dave Folderauer, the president, said. “Videos that do not show the whole event do not allow you to see all of the actions that led up to this point. I urge people not to rush to judgment without having all of the facts.”
Onlookers captured in the video are audibly disturbed by the police’s actions.
“Y’all do too much,” one person can be heard saying.
Another calls out: “You just lost your job.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Cassidy Jensen contributed to this article.