Harvard Responds To Police Assault Of Black Student

A statement from the mayor of Cambridge addressing Ohene's arrest

A statement from the mayor of Cambridge addressing Ohene's arrest

His legs were grabbed, and he was taken down to the ground. Mr. Bard said the report would be made public as soon as it was completed. He was put in handcuffs, Bard said.

The male was subsequently transported to a local hospital for an evaluation. Police say Ohene spat blood and spittle at a paramedic.

Ohene was charged with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, assault, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on an ambulance worker.

Asked why the student has been charged if the incident involves concerns over the undergraduate's mental health, Bard said the department is now working to decide whether the student's situation means he would be better served by "means other than the criminal justice system". "Ideally, in an optimal situation that's no force", said the police commissioner.

As you know, there was an arrest last night that involved use of force by our officers.

Ohene's lawyers said in a statement that the incident "continues to be a trying ordeal for Selorm and for his family". "If anyone ever had to constrain an individual against their will, they will know it's a very hard thing to do", he said.

"It's important to not gauge the officers' actions within the context of an ideal construct and to actually gauge their actions within the context of a rapidly evolving situation", Bard said. The police then found the completely nude man standing in the middle of a traffic island.

"Every attempt that was made to calm Ohene down and reason with him was met with opposition".

The Harvard Black Law Students Association published a harshly critical evaluation of the arrest on Saturday, noting that some of its members had seen the arrest and detailed it as "a brutal instance of police violence".

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"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. "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", the statement alleged. A fourth officer helps restrain Ohene, and one of the officers can be seen striking Ohene.

In response to questioning from reporters at the briefing, Bard specifically discussed one CPD officer's decision to repeatedly punch the student in the stomach. 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 BLSA statement over the weekend noted that "a pool of blood remained on the pavement" as the ambulance carrying the student departed the scene Friday night.

The organization asked people not to share Oherne's name. Faust called the video "profoundly disturbing" in an email sent to university affiliates Monday.

"The video also shows that the man wasn't compliant while he was on the ground", Bard said.

"We will be asking questions of ourselves, recognizing that the responsibility rests with the University to establish the conditions of trust necessary for effective campus policing and the delivery and coordination of effective health care", Faust said. In most cases, the extensive training our officers go through results in the de-escalation of risky situations. "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", he said.

"Cambridge affirms that Black Lives Matter", he said in a statement, "but it must be true in practice as well".

"We must learn from this incident and always strive to do better, but I want to be clear: my colleagues and I take these matters seriously, and will follow this closely to ensure that all the facts are properly investigated and that the public is informed of any and all developments", McGovern said.

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