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Cambridge police officers filmed allegedly beating Harvard student Selorm Ohene

17 April 2018

Selorm Ohene, a 21-year-old Harvard University student, is the subject of a controversial video that shows Cambridge police officers using force to arrest him after they say he was found naked in a street median.

In the footage, three Cambridge police officers and an MBTA Transit Police officer pin Ohene to the ground while arresting him near the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Waterhouse Street. Police say they received approximately six other calls about a naked man, and a police report stated that women who "appeared to be acquaintances" of the man told officers that he had possibly taken a hallucinogenic drug.

"It's important to not gauge the officers' actions within the context of an ideal construct and to actually gauge their actions within the context of a rapidly evolving situation", Bard said.

"Cambridge affirms that Black Lives Matter, but it must be true in practice as well", McGovern said in a statement. Use of force was utilized to gain compliance from the involved party, who was displaying erratic behavior due to reports of his ingestion of drugs earlier in the evening. As he turns his back to one of them, the officer tackles him. "When confrontations can not be averted and include the use of physical force, we must be willing to review our actions to ensure that our police officers are providing the highest level of safety for all", he said. After he was observed clinching both of his fists and started taking steps towards officers attempting to engage with the male, officers made the tactical decision to grab his legs and bring him to the ground, however, the male resisted arrest once on the ground.

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"The video also shows that the man wasn't compliant while he was on the ground", Bard said.

"Each incident our officers are involved in presents an opportunity for evaluation and determination on what alternatives can be done in the future for the most optimal outcome", reads a joint statement issued by the City Manager and Police Commissioner, who promise to examine officer protocol moving forward.

In its statement, the student group called on Harvard to form a crisis team to deal with emergencies without involving the police and demanded an investigation into the officers' conduct. Bard said the student was preventing the officers from placing handcuffs on his arm-and he said CPD officers tried multiple other methods of subduing the student including using their batons.

The Cambridge mayor said the investigation into the incident will be open to the public.

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Bard, who is black, said officers are trained to use the least amount of force, along a "continuum" that begins with the officer's arrival.

Ohene was charged with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, assault, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on ambulance personnel, police said. "He was flailing, kicking", said Bard, adding, "They continued to try to use other means to use control holds to get his arm under his body". "So the individual is now being evaluated to see if they fit that set of circumstances", he said. The primary concern I've addressed this morning focuses on punches (five in total) issued by one of the involved officers after the suspect was on the ground.

"A video recorded by an onlooker shows a Cambridge Officer punching the man several times", Cambridge Mayor Marc C. McGovern said in a press release.

"A pool of blood remained on the pavement as the ambulance departed", according to the Black Law Students Association. "Policing is Cambridge is far ahead of many communities across the country, and yet we can always strive to do better".

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"We will be asking questions of ourselves, recognizing that the responsibility rests with the University to establish the conditions of trust necessary for effective campus policing and the delivery and coordination of effective health care", Faust said.

Cambridge police officers filmed allegedly beating Harvard student Selorm Ohene