2021 | Government

County Council to get briefing on police interaction with 5-year-old boy

Chief to be part of discussion of police response, policy, training, discipline

File photo

More than a year after two police officers accosted, handcuffed and screamed at a 5-year-old boy who walked away from his school, the County Council will hear from the police chief about the response, policies, training and discipline on Tuesday.

The 51-minute video of body camera footage, released on March 25, shows two officers — Kevin Christmon and Dionne Holliday — screaming at the boy, demeaning him and trying to frighten him by snapping on handcuffs on Jan. 14, 2020. The boy had walked away from his class at East Silver Spring Elementary School.

Although the incident occurred in January 2020, the two police officers were not interviewed for the investigation until August, according to Lee Holland, corporate vice president for the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents county police officers.

Chief Marcus Jones decided on the discipline in January 2021 — a year after the incident – and the officers did not file an appeal, Holland said on Thursday. They are still employed by the department.

Bethesda Beat first reported on the video and officers’ action after the boy’s mother filed a lawsuit in January. The family is suing the county and the school district, seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Bethesda Beat filed a Maryland Public Information Act request for the video in January, but the department did not release it until March 25, posting it on YouTube.

Jones and representatives from Montgomery County Public Schools are expected to attend the briefing.

County Council members have criticized the delay in the release of body cam footage of the incident after months of requesting the video.

Although Tuesday’s briefing will be public, not all of the details of the investigation will be shared. The briefing will be at 2:30 p.m. and can be viewed virtually.

According to a staff report, information provided by the executive branch and Montgomery County Public Schools might be “significantly constrained due to a variety of legal prohibitions against sharing information such as disciplinary procedures. Other discussion items may also be limited due to pending litigation.”

Some members of the Montgomery County delegation wrote a letter to County Executive Marc Elrich, Superintendent Jack Smith, School Board President Brenda Wolff, and Jones on Thursday, urging an “immediate and robust” investigation of the police officers and school staff members involved.

“Every adult in that room failed this child, and you must hold them accountable for this negligence,” the letter stated. “In addition, we urge you to review and revise the MCPS policy that requires them to contact MCPD in the event that a child leaves campus. We must limit law enforcement in non-criminal and non-violent activities.”

Del. Sara Love posted a copy of the letter on Twitter Friday afternoon and wrote that almost the entire delegation joined her in calling for an investigation and that the boy was “abused” by the two police officers and “failed” by MCPS staff members

“They must be held accountable for this incomprehensible violence,” she wrote.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.