Statement by Acting Chief Marcus Jones Regarding White Oak Incident; Additional Body-Worn Camera Footage Released

The following is a release of the statement to be provided by Acting Chief Marcus Jones at today’s press conference regarding the White Oak incident.

 

“There has been a great deal of interest by the public and from our elected officials about an incident that took place on May 9, 2019 at the McDonald’s restaurant at 11146 New Hampshire Avenue in White Oak.

In the interest of transparency, today we are releasing 205 minutes of video taken with body-worn cameras by our officers at the scene.

This is a release of all the body-worn camera footage available.  One of our officers, Sergeant McDannell, did not turn on his camera immediately as is required but did turn it on as the incident progressed.

I also want to emphasize that you will hear on this tape language from our officers that is decidedly unprofessional.  It violates our Department policy, it is not acceptable to me and it is not acceptable to our community.

Before getting into the details of the incident, I want to make it clear that I cannot discuss, or take questions, on any details of our internal investigation as it still in progress.

I would like to set out a broader context for the events of May 9 than has been available previously.

Our officers are very familiar with the White Oak area and with the McDonald’s restaurant specifically.  The beat involved here is one of our busiest in terms of calls for service.

Within that beat, this McDonald’s restaurant is one of the establishments that most frequently generates calls for service.  In 2018, there were 192 calls for service, with 57 of those dealing with trespassing.  Through June 15 of this year, there have been 53 calls for service, with 21 of those for trespassing.

The manager of the restaurant not only encourages his employees to call the police when there are issues, he also requested that we take action when officers view a situation that might be disruptive to the business or which we believe might be of a criminal nature.

We work with the McDonald’s to make certain there is a safe environment for customers and employees.  In this instance, our officer approached the four individuals involved outside of the restaurant and asked them to move along.

The reporting and social media postings at the time reflected the view that we unfairly and perhaps illegally accosted and searched young men who had been customers of the restaurant and were waiting to be picked up to be taken to work.

The evidence from our investigation presents a different view.

This is not what some people call a random “stop and frisk” action.  It began with the officer approaching the four men in the video and asking them to move along.

At that point, and what was not apparent on the social media video of the incident, was that our officers detected the odor of marijuana on at least two of the individuals.

This was probable cause for arrest, and the reason why the individuals and a backpack were searched.

We have also determined through security camera video that none of the men were customers of the restaurant.  None had ordered, consumed or picked up food or drinks inside the restaurant.

This was not an incident of racial profiling.  Our officers are trained in Constitutional policing while in the Training Academy and after they graduate.  We exceed the State standards in this area.  We do not tolerate racial profiling and it was not in evidence here.

At the end of the day, all of the men were issued trespass notices and two were issued Maryland Civil Citations for marijuana possession.  You will see on the video that at least one of the men was familiar with this process.

For the record, the store manager has asked that the trespass notices given to the four men not be rescinded, as some others have requested.

Thank you for your attention.  The video will be posted online for your viewing shortly after we conclude here.

And again, I want to apologize for the language of our officers that you will hear in the video.  I am disappointed with it, and I want to be clear it does not meet our standards.”

The body-worn camera footage related to this incident can be accessed and viewed at the following links:

Sergeant M. McDannell

Officer T. Fox

Officer M. Washington (part 1):

Officer M. Washington (part 2)

Officer K. Harrington

Officer J. Mirra (part 1)

Officer J. Mirra (part 2)

Officer J. Dodson 

Officer F. Ronald (part 1)

Officer F. Ronald (part 2)

Officer D. Olsen

Lieutenant E. Bunting

 

The policies of the Montgomery County Department of Police can be found at the following link:

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/pol/resource/policies.html

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CTJ