BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s a turning point in the case against a Jewish patrolman who allegedly attacked a teenager in Park Heights.
Andrea Fujii explains why the most serious charge was dismissed.
Eliyahu Werdesheim now only faces three misdemeanors after the state dropped the felony first-degree assault charge.
“Based on the review of the evidence, they thought that was the appropriate charge,” said Andrew Alperstein, Werdesheim’s attorney.
The 23-year-old is accused of attacking a 15-year-old black teen in November while on patrol in Park Heights with the Jewish community group Shomrim.
Werdesheim, a former Israeli soldier, claims the encounter was in self-defense, thinking the teen was responsible for recent crimes in the area.
The teen’s attorney says his client is innocent and the alleged attack warrants more focus.
“We have hospital records that show that my client was hit in the head and had to get stitches,” said J. Wyndal Gordon, teen’s attorney.
The case sparked division between black and Jewish communities, even prompting a meeting with the two groups in December.
Werdesheim and the teen’s attorneys say they both want justice, but disagree on whether race played a factor.
“This is an issue about what happened between two people on the street, not about, from my perspective, about a wider community interest,” said Alperstein.
“We cannot ignore the fact that it is a hate crime, and we have yet to hear that Mr. Werdesheim is being charged with such,” said Gordon.
The next court date is set for mid-February.
Werdesheim is free on bail. The teen is still recovering from his injuries.