Maryland cop accused of threatening to arrest woman for sitting on picnic table

24/02/2019 Posted by admin

A Maryland couple is asking for an apology after a local police officer allegedly threatened one of them with arrest for sitting on a picnic table.

Ronshell and Ernest Shockley were watching their 13-year-old son participate in a youth basketball game at a local park in the town of Berlin, Md. earlier this year when, they say, Lt. Jeffrey Lawson of the Berlin Police Department harassed Ronshell for where she was sitting.

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“When he got within arm’s reach of my wife, he put his finger in her face and said, ‘Sit down on that bench right,” said Ernest in an interview with WBAL.

The Shockleys said they were troubled by the officer’s tone and approach during the incident.

Ronshell, a local business owner, said she complied with his demand and asked him what rule or law she was violating.

“The next thing out of his mouth was, ‘Leave the park or I will arrest you,’” said Ernest. “I’m like, ‘You’re going to arrest us? Arrest us for what?’”

Signs listing the park rules do not mention or prohibit sitting on picnic tables, according to WBAL.

Signs listing the park rules do not mention or prohibit sitting on picnic tables.

WBAL screen shot

The couple said Lt. Lawson then called for backup.

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“I was shocked. I was embarrassed,” said Ronshell. “I was humiliated in front my children, my neighbourhood.”

The couple went to the Berlin police station to file a complaint but were allegedly told that because the chief wasn’t in the office, they wouldn’t be able to file their complaint.

Ronshell and Ernest then went to the home of Police Chief Arnold Downing to find him and were eventually able to file their complaint at the station.

Nearly four months after the incident, the Shockleys received a response from Downing.

“The investigation was completed by an independent agency (Worcester County Sheriff’s Office) which sustained that a violation of Berlin Police Department policy had occurred during the incident. The Berlin Police Department has taken corrective action with the officer involved.”

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WBAL reported the police department wouldn’t disclose what the corrective action was citing policies against the public information on police officers.

Global News reached out to the Sheriff’s Office for more information on their findings.

Lt. Edward Schreier at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office called it a “personnel matter” and refused to discuss the issue.

“I was at a public facility, minding my own business, not violating any laws. He [Lt. Lawson] decided to harass me,” said Ronshell. “We want him reprimanded and we deserve an apology.

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