Baltimore County police said they plan to review the arrest of a 19-year-old man outside a popular bar in Towson after a video showed officers taking him to the ground and at least one appearing to punch him several times in the face.
Police said Zachary C. Blumenstein of Chevy Chase, Md., resisted Saturday as officers tried to arrest him outside the Greene Turtle restaurant and bar on York Road. Police said Blumenstein had been in a “verbal altercation” outside the bar and was “verbally combative” with officers.
The county police chief, Jim Johnson, said in a statement that the department is reviewing the involvement of one of its Towson officers in arresting Blumenstein. The statement said cellphone video taken by a bystander and posted to YouTube showed three officers trying to arrest Blumenstein.
“One of the officers strikes Blumenstein in the head several times as he resists,” the police statement said.
The video showed three officers involved in arresting Blumenstein. One officer appeared to get on top of him in the street. Another appeared to put his knee on Blumenstein’s head. One officer is seen appearing to grab and hold him from behind.
At one point, one of the officers appeared to strike Blumenstein several times in the face. Blumenstein was picked up off the street by the officers and apparently put into a police cruiser.
The video was taken as bystanders watched from the sidewalk and made comments. Police repeatedly told them to leave the area and go home.
The Baltimore Sun was among the first to report on the incident and the police investigation.
Marc Blumenstein — Zachary’s father — said Monday “we have no comment” and referred questions to his family’s lawyer, Robert B. Hetherington.
Hetherington said Zachary had been at the Greene Turtle for a birthday party for a college friend. He said he didn’t know if Blumenstein had consumed alcohol at the party and that Blumenstein was not tested for alcohol by authorities.
“We’re still investigating,” Hetherington said Tuesday, noting that he plans to defend Blumenstein on the criminal charges he faces and “pursue whatever action is appropriate.”
He said police did not transport Blumenstein to a hospital. Hetherington said Blumenstein was taken to a police station after he was arrested and handcuffed to bench, where he stayed until his father came to get him.
Hetherington said Blumenstein’s father took him to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion. Blumenstein was treated and released, according to Hetherington. He said his client also suffered scrapes and bruises from “blows to his face and head.”
Police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said Zachary was not transported to a hospital and was not treated by EMS personnel. She said he was sent to the Towson precinct for processing and was taken to a hearing before a court commissioner.
She said the use of handcuffs is “standard procedure for defendants under arrest.”
Zachary Blumenstein attends Dickinson College and plays on the school’s lacrosse team, according to a spokeswoman at the school.
Johnson — the police chief — said in the statement that the department “takes the use of force seriously and will review this incident for compliance with use of force training.”
He also said that it “appears that the officer did escalate the use of force as required by the [department’s] policy.” He said he was “concerned about the officer’s use of a closed fist to strike the suspect several times.”
Armacost, the police department spokeswoman, said the internal affairs division will conduct a review of one officer’s use of a closed fist in the incident. She also said that “officers were justified in using force to bring this man under control.”
She went on to say that Blumenstein was “combative and uncooperative from the start of the incident to its finish.” Armacost said the issue for internal affairs is whether the use of the closed fist was appropriate “in these specific circumstances.”
Police said the incident with Blumenstein began about 12:40 a.m., about 40 minutes before the video was reportedly recorded. Police said Blumenstein “engaged in a verbal altercation” in front of the bar and restaurant. Five other men tried to restrain him, police said.
According to police, an officer ordered Blumenstein to leave the area, but he “remained verbally combative, yelling profanities,” according to police. The five men “moved him from the location,” according to police. It was not clear where they moved him.
About 2 a.m., police said, Blumenstein pushed a man into York Road.
Hetherington, Blumenstein’s lawyer, disputed the police claim that his client had pushed someone into the street. He said, “there’s some conflicting evidence as to whether that occurred.”
He added, “There’s a lot of conflicting evidence about a lot of things that Baltimore County police have stated.”
According to police, an officer told Blumenstein that he was under arrest, but he resisted, according to police. He was told to stop resisting, police said, but did not. Another officer arrived and Blumenstein continued to resist.
An officer then used pepper spray, authorities said. Police said Blumenstein “continued to refuse to comply with the officer.”
He was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. He also faces other charges of failure to obey a police officer.
He was released on his own recognizance.