By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
A Prince George's County prosecutor yesterday dropped charges against a University of Maryland student who had been accused of assaulting a campus police officer after three officers subpoenaed by the defense did not appear in court and prosecutors did not produce a written statement by an eyewitness.
The student, John-Randall Shant Gorby, 21, said in an interview that the incident began about 2 a.m. May 13 when five men attacked and tried to rob him in the parking lot of a small shopping center near the campus. Gorby said he was punched and knocked to the ground, then got up and slugged two men who pushed him.
According to university police, one of the men was a plainclothes campus police officer who ran toward the fray. Gorby said he did not know an officer was nearby. Another officer grabbed Gorby's arm and handcuffed him, according to police charging documents.
Gorby said that after he was handcuffed, he tried to point out one of his attackers to campus police but that officers told him to "shut up." He said campus police allowed the man to get away.
Gorby's attorney, Rene Sandler, said campus police also failed to check surveillance video from nearby businesses, which she said might have helped identify Gorby's attackers.
"It's disgraceful," Sandler said of the efforts of university police and prosecutors. "No one was interested in investigating. No one was interested in finding out the truth."
Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, said charges against Gorby were dropped because police failed to review video surveillance and key witnesses did not appear for court. Korionoff said campus police did not provide the statement by an independent witness to prosecutors.
Regarding Sandler's contention that the case was mishandled, he said Assistant State's Attorney Chinwe Kpaduwa "acted professionally in all her efforts on this case."
Capt. John Brandt, a campus police spokesman, said he was unaware of any defense subpoenas for the three campus officers, including the one Gordy allegedly struck, who did not appear in court.
Brandt said campus police records showed that only Minkyu Pak, the officer who arrested Gorby and swore out the statement of charges, was summoned to court yesterday, by the state.
University police reviewed surveillance video from a camera trained on the parking lot, but the images were not sharp enough to help, Brandt said. Pak was in the courtroom in Hyattsville yesterday and left shortly after District Court Judge Krystal Alves dismissed the case at Kpaduwa's request.
After spending a night in jail, Gorby said, he went to campus police and wrote a statement describing how he was attacked. While there, Gorby said, he ran into someone who witnessed the incident and was writing his statement.
The witness wrote that he saw Gorby being attacked by five men, Gorby and Brandt said.
Sandler said she requested a copy of the statement to prepare for trial. Prosecutors did not provide it and did not explain why it was unavailable, Sandler said.