Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Harvard Arrest: Police Under Fire for Repeatedly Punching Naked Black Student

Harvard Arrest: Police Under Fire for Repeatedly Punching Naked Black Student

"Three officers from the Cambridge Police Department and another officer from the Transit Police Department were required to gain compliance with the male".

Segun Idowu, a police accountability advocate in Boston, said it's too early to say whether police overreacted, but he can understand why the use of force resonates with some activists. Emergency Communications stated they had received a call from a woman who stated a male had thrown his clothes in her face. About 30 bystanders witnessed the spectacle. It was learned from his acquaintances that he previously took narcotics, which could have a hallucinogenic effect when ingested. One officer strikes him multiple times as he is down.

In the video, an officer grabs Ohene's legs from behind, knocking him forward into another officer.

He added: 'Every attempt that was made to calm Ohene down and reason with him was met with opposition. "To prevent the altercation from extending and leading to further injuries, particularly since the location of the engagement was next to a busy street with oncoming traffic, the officers utilized their discretion and struck the individual in the mid-section to gain his compliance and place him in handcuffs", the commissioner's statement said.

'I perceived this as a threat and thought an attack was imminent, ' wrote the cop. They said Ohene did nothing to provoke the officers' escalated reaction. "Ohene absolutely could not be reasoned with".

Police said they told Ohene they were "only there to help him and were concerned for his safety;" however, he became "aggressive, hostile, and intimidating" and approached officers with clenched fists, prompting them to take him to the ground, the report continued.

The officer who delivered the blows to Ohene's stomach later wrote in his report that 'these [punches] seemed ineffective'.

Ohene can be heard on the video yelling, "Help me, Jesus!"

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He remained in the hospital over the weekend, undergoing a mental health evaluation, Bard said. Police say Ohene spat blood and spittle at a paramedic.

The man, Selorm Ohene, was arrested on charges including disorderly conduct and assault.

Idowu said all police departments should have body camera programs - and Cambridge does not.

The Cambridge mayor said the investigation into the incident will be open to the public.

Branville G. Bard Jr., the Cambridge police commissioner, said at a news conference that he supported the arresting officers and had not placed them on administrative leave. Eventually other officers were able to pry Ohene's arm from behind his back and handcuff his arms and shackle him at the ankles.

The Harvard Black Law Students Association, some of whose members witnessed the scene, disputed the police account and claim the officers acted without provocation.

'A naked, unarmed Black man stood still on the median at the center of Massachusetts Avenue, ' the group said in a statement.

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". "In most cases, the extensive training of our officers go through results in the de-escalation of risky situations", McGovern said in a statement.

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