Police Commissioner Says He 'Absolutely' Supports Officers Who Arrested Harvard Student

Police Commissioner Says He 'Absolutely' Supports Officers Who Arrested Harvard Student

The Cambridge Police Department on Saturday said it launched an internal probe after video appears to show officers tackle and and punch a black Harvard student who was naked as they arrested him on Friday night.

The 21-year-old mathematics major was arrested Friday around 10 p.m. and charged with disorderly conduct, indecent exposure, resisting arrest and assault after officers found him wandering near the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Waterhouse Street without clothes on. Three officers from the Cambridge Police and another officer from the Transit Police were required to gain compliance from the male and place him in handcuffs to avoid further injury to himself, the responding officers or any on-lookers. "It escalated while officers were attempting to speak with him", said Bard. "Help me, Jesus!" as he struggles with the officers. "You have to judge their actions within the context of a rapidly evolving situation and not within an ideal construct".

"Cambridge affirms that Black Lives Matter, but it must be true in practice as well", McGovern said. When confrontations can not be averted and include the use of physical force, we must be willing to review our actions to ensure that our police officers are providing the highest level of safety for all.

The statement continued, "He was surrounded by at least four Cambridge Police Department (CPD) officers who, without provocation, lunged at him, tackled him and pinned him to the ground". Ohene's behavior became aggressive, unreceptive, and intimidating nearly immediately. "When confrontations can not be averted and include the use of physical force, we must be willing to review our actions to ensure that our police officers are proving the highest level of safety for all".

Bard said officers had difficulty in getting one of Ohene's arms from underneath his body to be able to handcuff him. A video taken at the scene showed police pinning the man down and repeatedly hitting him in the stomach.

The department conducts training to equip officers to handle all incidents in a professional manner to ensure the safety of the public and our officers at all times.

In the wake of the incident, the Harvard Black Law Students Association is calling for Harvard University to create an internal crisis response team to support students in a way that does not involve the Cambridge Police Department. In fact, an officer struck Ohene five times in the torso, according to the police report.

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Commissioner Branville Bard said if Ohene's face-off with police was linked to mental health issues, it's possible they drop the charges entirely.

"A video recorded by an onlooker shows a Cambridge Officer punching the man several times", Cambridge Mayor Marc C. McGovern said in a press release.

"He is now recovering from injuries sustained during his encounter with the Cambridge Police Department, " the attorneys wrote in a joint statement.

The lawyers said it had been a trying ordeal for their client and his family, and they asked the public and the media to respect his privacy. "If anyone ever had to constrain an individual against their will, they will know it's a very hard thing to do", he said.

"A naked, unarmed Black man stood still on the median at the center of Massachusetts Avenue across from Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church", the group's statement said. "Shortly thereafter, firefighters came and cleaned up the blood with bleach and water".

"We had candid conversations behind the issues of racist policing", Bard said. We'll continue to review and refine our protocols, policies and trainings as appropriate to ensure we are most effectively, sensitively and safely handling incidents to uphold the highest degree of professionalism and standard of service our community expects from its police department.

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