GWYNN OAK, Md. (WJZ) —The lawyer and family of a 76-year-old grandmother, whose videotaped arrest last week went viral, revealed new details about the encounter in Baltimore County.
According to Rena Mellerson’s attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, a Baltimore County police officer “flipped her and slammed her to the ground” outside her Gwynn Oak home. Police allegedly wanted to talk to Mellerson’s granddaughter, Cierra Floyd, about an incident that occurred in Windsor Mill earlier Friday afternoon.
Gordon said Floyd called police to 74 Western Winds Circle around 3:52 p.m. Friday afternoon for a disturbance involving a child with autism, who got off a bus transporting him home from Sheppard Pratt.
While on the bus, Gordon said, the child was allegedly assaulting other children on the bus. Once he was off the bus, the child continued this behavior and was confronted by two adults, including Floyd, who tried to intervene. Instead, he said the child allegedly tried to assault the women and damaged their vehicles near a bus stop.
Awaiting a press conference with grandmother arrested and thrown down and arrested by a Baltimore County police officer; chief and county executive have called for an investigation but have yet to release officer body-worn camera video. @wjz pic.twitter.com/n8XyymXDMu
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) January 15, 2020
Gordon identified the officer who responded to the scene as Cpl. Brennan. He said the officer was allegedly “condescending” to Floyd, who then went inside her home when she felt that Brennan wasn’t helping.
Later, Floyd left her home to go pick up her children from her grandmother’s home.
The Mellerson family said police used motor vehicle records to find Floyd, and that led Cpl. Brennan to Rena Mellerson’s home.
When he arrived he “pounded” on Mellerson’s front door, Gordon said. When the grandmother opened the door, Gordon claims Brennan tried to force his way into the home.
Cpl. Brennan continued to try to get into the home. Gordon claims pepper spray was discharged inside the home and a Taser deployed into the wall. A 6-year-old girl and a 9-year-old girl, who were inside the home, inhaled the pepper spray, according to Gordon. The children were screaming and crying, Gordon said.
“Ms. Mellerson let the officer in and he took her into custody and he escorted her out of the home without incident,“ Gordon told reporters. Gordon says another officer he identified as Ofc. Schmidt arrived on the scene and took Mellerson from Brennan. Gordon claims Ofc. Schmidt threw Mellerson to the ground.
According to Barbara, when Ofc. Schmidt had her mother on the ground he said, “The f***, you don’t know any English. Put your hands behind your back.”
Gordon called Schmidt’s conduct “violent” and claimed that Cpl. Brennan “admonished police officer Schmidt” and told him to “take it easy.”
Floyd was then removed from the home in police custody without further incident, Gordon said. She, too, inhaled pepper spray which made it difficult to breathe due to her asthma.
“I hope this will never happen to anyone else again,” Mellerson told WJZ Wednesday. “It’s not a good feeling.” The 76-year-old said she’s in pain.
When Cpl. Brennan came to her home, Mellerson said she was inside talking on the phone and watching television.
Mellerson’s daughter Barbara Mellerson said she doesn’t believe the officers had the proper training. She said if the officers aren’t fired they need sensitivity training.
“A reprimand is not going to be justice for me,” Barbara said. “You can reprimand them, but I want them terminated.”
According to Barbara, when Ofc. Schmidt had her mother on the ground he said, “The f***, you don’t know any English? Put your hands behind your back.”
“My mother was not difficult, you had no business at her house,” Barbara added. “You stuck your foot in her door. You were trespassing. You were breaking and entering. If it was his mother, how would he feel?”
“I’m not a criminal, my daughter is not a criminal,” Barbara added. “They always turn it on the victim.”
“I don’t think you need the training to know not to slam a 76-year-old woman to the ground,” Gordon said. “I don’t think you need classes for that.”
Gordon said these officers are “disgracing the badge that many officers wear proudly and do their jobs every day, putting their lives in danger.”
On Tuesday, Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt ordered an investigation into the incident.
Hyatt said a bystander recorded video of an interaction between officers and two people that she said is “unsettling to watch and raises concerns.”
Hyatt called the video “unsettling to watch” and said it “raises concerns.” She said police will review officers’ body-worn camera footage from the arrest and release it publicly once their investigation is complete.
“I thank the individual who taped the incident — our residents are important partners in our communities. We hold our officers to a high standard of accountability,” Hyatt said. “Maintaining the trust of those who live, work and visit Baltimore County is paramount as we continue to work together to keep communities safe.”
Rena Mellerson has been charged with three misdemeanors including second-degree assault and resisting arrest. Floyd faces five charges including felony assault on a law enforcement officer.
Police have not provided any specific details about the encounter or spoken about it beyond the chief’s statement. They also haven’t made the body camera video public yet.
WJZ reached out to the officers’ union for comment, but we have not heard back.