A Metro article Thursday incorrectly reported that a Howard County grand jury decided against issuing indictment in the hanging death of Carl Jonathan Bowie. It has not yet taken action in that case. (Published 8/8/90)
A Howard County grand jury decided yesterday to issue no indictments in the hanging death of a 20-year-old man found May 4 on a baseball backstop at Columbia's Oakland Mills High School.
Although the state medical examiner ruled the death of Carl Jonathan Bowie a suicide, many of his relatives and friends have disputed that finding and have suggested that his death was the result of foul play. County police first ruled the death a suicide and later reclassified it as an unattended death and reopened the investigation.
Family and friends have said that Bowie and his twin brother had been harassed by police officers after filing brutality complaints against officers Victor Riemer, Ricky Johnson and a third unidentified officer. The brothers said that the officers used excessive force in arresting them at a party at the Red Roof Inn in Jessup in January.
Carl Bowie was charged with resisting arrest. Mickey Carlton Bowie was charged with battery and resisting arrest.
However, the grand jury did not indict the officers -- none of whom had been charged -- in Carl Bowie's death or with using excessive force in making the Jessup arrests.
Before the police reopened their probe of Carl Bowie's death, family and friends held vigils, picketed the police department and collected more than 500 signatures urging State's Attorney William Hymes to investigate again.
The grand jury "heard 28 witnesses, considered all the facts and testimony and found insufficient evidence," said Assistant State's Attorney Michael D. Rexroad.
Christina Gutierrez, the Bowie family's lawyer, said it is "extraordinarily improper for the State's Attorney's Office to declare that officers are "magically cleared" of complicity in Bowie's death. "No police officers were charged in that matter," said Gutierrez, who vowed to prove that the State's Attorney's Office acted improperly.
Also yesterday, a Howard County Circuit Court judge rejected claims that the secret grand jury proceedings were being leaked to Police Chief Frederick W. Chaney and other members of the department.
Attorneys for one of the men alleging police brutality had filed motions alleging that potential grand jury witnesses were being harassed by police officers and were receiving anonymous death threats.
But after conducting closed hearings with prosecutors and attorneys, Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. denied requests to quash further subpoenas and protect potential witnesses in the proceeding.
Kane turned down requests by Gutierrez to appoint a special prosecutor. Hymes agreed to convene a grand jury and allow witnesses to testify before it and have a stenographer present. Usually, prosecutors briefly summarize cases to jurors.
Chief Chaney said the decision vindicated the department and denied the attorney's claims that grand jury information had been leaked to the police department.
"I have had very little contact with Mr. Hymes," Chaney said.
Chaney denied that the recent resignation of police Chaplain David Rogers was a direct result of his testimony to the grand jury concerning an anonymous phone call he received from a police officer concerning the Bowie case.
But Chaney acknowledged that he did tell Rogers that he acted improperly and "compromised his relationship with the department."
Mickey Bowie's trial has been postponed until November.
The Maryland State Police have started a separate investigation of his brother's death.