On May 21, University of Maryland police responded to a reported fight at a graduation party at Courtyards (which turned out to be a false report). The officers used pepper spray to break up the party of predominately black students. UMPD investigated the incident and found that the use of pepper spray was justified, but avoidable. Below is The Diamondback’s full coverage.
On July 14, University of Maryland Police completed their investigation into the use of pepper spray at a Courtyards party in May. Take a look at footage of the incident, caught by body cameras, and listen to the 911-call audio.
University of Maryland police officers’ use of pepper spray to break up a graduation party of predominately black students was justified, but could have been avoided had the officers used a less hostile approach, according to the police chief’s summary report.
One officer is suspended for two weeks without pay for “conduct unbecoming an officer,” including incorrectly deploying pepper spray although the use itself was justified, according to Police Chief David Mitchell’s summary report released Thursday from the May 21 incident at the Courtyards apartments.
As national discussions swirl around police and citizen relations, various University of Maryland officials responded Thursday afternoon to University of Maryland Police’s investigation results that deemed the use of force at a May 21 Courtyards party was justified.
Campus leaders such as Kumea Shorter-Gooden, the university’s chief diversity officer, said in a statement that “this incident has been very disturbing for our campus community, particularly our Black and African American community.”
University President Wallace Loh addressed a letter to the campus community regarding the May 21 pepper spray incident at Courtyards.
“I applaud Chief Mitchell for his transparency, accountability, and decisiveness. The men and women of UMPD are an integral and valued part of our campus community. They are dedicated guardians, sworn to serve and protect. All of us respect and appreciate the difficult work they do, the sacrifices they make in the line of duty. We owe them our support. In turn, they recognize that “community policing,” not “confrontational policing,” is essential to building trust between the police and the policed.”
Some of those affected by the incident speak out in an open letter.
“What we hope will come from this incident is a better response from the UMD police force in future situations like these and sense a unity within the campus community.”
A full statement from UMD Police Chief David Mitchell.
“We are addressing these issues because we recognize that the trust of our campus community—particularly our African-American community – is an integral part to our collective success.”
University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell released a report summarizing his investigation into the use of pepper spray to break up a party at the Courtyards on May 21. The results, however, are somewhat confusing. We broke them down.
The department has not yet implemented diversity training or completed a use of force policy review.
“It was just hard to watch,” Student Government Association President Katherine Swanson said.
The investigation was expected to take up to 30 days, police said June 1.
Twitter backlash is claiming racism fueled the incident.