After video of police beating of Black Harvard student goes viral, police commissioner says he supports officers’ actions
While the Harvard University President condemns the brutal beating of a black student, Police Commissioner Branville G. Bard Jr. says his officers’ actions are justified.
According to the Crimson, Bard revealed that 21-year-old Selorm Ohene, is currently undergoing a mental evaluation and the officers’ reaction to brutally beating the undergrad was based on a fast-moving scenario that could have had much to do with Ohene’s mental status.
“I absolutely do support the officers,” he said Monday. “You have to judge their actions within the context of a rapidly evolving situation and not within an ideal construct.”
“We operate in a practical world,” Bard said.
He adds: “The video also shows that the man wasn’t compliant while he was on the ground,” Bard said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on. He was flailing, kicking.”
Black Law Students disagree with the police narrative of events. They say that police were unprovoked when they attacked Ohene, threw him to the ground and struck him several times. The brutal incident was captured on a seven-minute video and has since gone viral.
When asked why police officers gut punched Ohene as shown in the video, Bard responded:
“So they continued other measures, other control holds, other uses of their batons, to try to get the arm leverage from underneath the man’s body,” Bard said. “It’s a very difficult thing to do. If anyone’s ever had to constrain an individual against their will, they’ll know that it’s a very difficult thing to do.”
The police who answered the 911 call have not yet been placed on administrative leave. Ohene has yet to be arraigned pending the outcome of his mental evaluation at a local hospital.
Harvard University President Drew G. Faust condemned the arrest of the black student by Cambridge police and called for better discretion against “the backdrop of increasingly urgent questions about race and policing in the United States.”
Roland S. Davis, the Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion has also made contact with the Cambridge police, after the incident.
Black Law students also said that police were preventing them from videotaping the incident and put out a statement over the weekend but Bard said:
“The allegation that officers were stopping anyone from filming, I haven’t seen any evidence of that,” he said. “And if there is some evidence, I would like to have it. Because it would be a clear violation of policy.”
CPD spokesperson Jeremy Warnick said that info about new units that “are going to address procedural justice and social policing” will be announced sometime soon.