BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A member of a community action group that patrols one Baltimore neighborhood is under fire, accused of assaulting a teenager.
Gigi Barnett has more.
City police officers say every neighborhood should have a patrol group but last week, officers say an encounter with a 15-year-old went too far.
A Northwest Baltimore neighborhood has extra eyes and ears watching. It’s a Jewish patrol group and one of its volunteers faces charges of first-degree assault, false imprisonment and reckless endangerment.
Police say Eliyahu Werdesheim, 23, struck an African-American teen last week as the 15-year-old walked through the Park Heights neighborhood.
“We have a case that we’re investigating now that involves an individual who may have taken the law into his own hands,” said Anthony Guglielmi, Baltimore City Police spokesperson.
According to the police report, the teen told officers Werdesheim and two other guards surrounded him near the 3300-block of Fallstaff Road. The teen says the men threw him to the ground began to pat him down and told him he didn’t belong in the area. He said Werdesheim hit him in the head with a walkie-talkie while the other men held him down.
“They’re a vital part of keeping the community safe. We encourage more community organizations to get involved but we’re not to going to tolerate people who take the law into their own hands,” Guglielmi said.
Now the teen has a broken wrist and cuts on his head.
“This person was on people’s back porches, looking into houses,” said Andrew Alperstein, Werdesheim’s attorney.
Alperstein says his client–who is a former Israeli special forces soldier–thought the teen was a criminal suspect and it was Werdesheim who acted in self-defense.
“The suspected wrongdoer then picked up a stick and swung it at Mr. Werdesheim. Mr. Werdesheim defended himself and this will be a self-defense case,” Alperstein said.
The group suspended Werdesheim until an investigation is complete.
Werdesheim is out on bail.