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Police Chief Deems Actions Taken By Officer Confronting Student Inappropriate

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TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) – Confrontation caught on tape. The Baltimore County police chief talks about the video between an officer and a man attempting to record an arrest.

Mike Hellgren has more on what Chief Jim Johnson is saying.

The police chief has condemned the actions taken against a citizen. He has also ordered all sworn officers to be reminded of the law.

“The words of and demands to cease filming by sworn personnel and citizen volunteer auxiliary officers were incorrect, inappropriate and unnecessary,” Chief Johnson said. “They were not helpful in bringing this incident to closure. As we already have stated, all aspects of this encounter are under investigation, and all personnel will be held accountable for their actions.”

View video here.

“I’m allowed to do this,” the student told the officer.

“Get it out of my face,” the officer replied.

“I have my rights,” the student said.

“You have no rights,” the officer said.

Baltimore County’s police chief vows to hold supervising officers accountable for a confrontation with the college student in Towson Sunday.

“Do you see the police presence here? Do you see us all? We’re not [expletive] around. Do you understand? Do not disrespect us and do not not listen to us,” the officer said. “Now walk away and shut your [expletive] mouth or you’re going to jail.”

Police say a sergeant in their volunteer auxiliary unit used language that was simply wrong when he told student Sergio Gutierrez he was not allowed to record officers making an arrest in public.

“Have I committed a crime, sir?” the student asked.

“Do you want to go?” the officer replied.

“I have done nothing here,” the student said.

“Don’t open your mouth,” the officer said.

“I thought I had freedom of speech here,” the student said.

“You don’t. You’ve just lost it,” the officer said.

“The behavior that is seen by some of the officers and the auxiliary officer in this video is simply not acceptable,” said Elise Armacost, Baltimore County Police. “I think the words that [Johnson] used was that what he saw was inappropriate, incorrect and unnecessary.”

That auxiliary sergeant had been volunteering for 22 years. He’s now been reduced to administrative duties, pending the outcome of a full investigation.

WJZ has reported extensively on similar confrontations with officers in Maryland. Courts ruled citizens can record them.

“There is no question that citizens have a right to film officers on duty and in a public place,” Armacost said.

Police say the volunteer sergeant, who they did not name, was sworn and had limited arrest powers.

There are 80 volunteer officers in the program, and police point out, they do play a critical role in reducing crime.

The student who filmed the confrontation said in published reports that police grabbed him. He has not filed a complaint with the department.

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