Towson, MD - A recently uploaded video of police violently arresting an unarmed teenager is raising public scrutiny amid the national debate over officer's use of force.
The video, which was uploaded on Saturday, shows the brutal arrest of 19-year-old Dickinson College student, Zachary Blumenstein and the tense aftermath that followed.
The incident began around 2 am at the Greene Turtle Tavern on York St. According to police spokesperson Elise Armacost, approximately 40 minutes before the incident transpired, Blumenstein was seen having an argument with another patron. After officers later witnessed the teenager shoving another person, they stepped into arrest him. The incident that transpired was caught on film by a bystander and uploaded to youtube.
As the video begins, Zachary can be seen on the ground with an officer on top of him. Within seconds, another officer approaches and appears to try and stomp on the teenagers head. Moments later a third officer jumps into the fray and after a brief struggle, one of the officers unleashes a torrent of fists to the teen's head, striking him, at least, six times. The officer then proceeds to aggressively grind his knee into the teenagers head forcing it into the pavement. During the struggle officers also stated that they pepper sprayed the teen twice.
As soon as the teenager is subdued and placed in handcuffs, one officer jumps up and begins to try and intimidate innocent bystanders yelling at them to "Get off the sidewalk" and "Go Home" despite the fact that no one in the crowd was impeding the arrest. The officer can also be seen at the end of the video posturing himself in front of a bystander in an aggressive manner.
Below is the full video of the arrest.
After the video had started going viral, Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson said that he will review the incident to determine if the officer's actions were appropriate, specifically the numerous close handed strikes to the teen's head.
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Former Baltimore City police officer Rob Weinhold echoed Chief Johnson's sentiments stating,
“I think it’s very clear that punching someone in the face is against training protocol.”
Zachary Blumenstein is now facing five charges, including disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, trespassing, failure to obey a police officer, and resisting arrest. The officers involved have not been suspended and remain on active duty.
While the 19-year-old college student is certainly no innocent victim in this case, it is apparent from this video, that the force he was subjected to at the hands of police, was indeed excessive.
This is not the first time a Towson officer's actions have caused a public backlash. As The Free Thought Project previously reported, in February 2014, a Baltimore County police sergeant was caught on video telling a student who was filming an arrest that he lost his right to free speech and to “Walk away and shut your f*cking mouth, or you’re going to jail.”
This is why personal accountability is of the utmost importance for police and citizens alike. If we are to leave behind a better world for future generations, it is up to all of us, on an individual basis, to become more peaceful people. The acts of aggression we so often see today must be exposed and abhorred by all.
Johnny Liberty is a researcher and investigative journalist. You can follow him on twitter @LibertyUnltd