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Published: Wed, April 18, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

MA: Police arrest naked Harvard student

MA: Police arrest naked Harvard student

A naked black Harvard University student was forced to the ground and repeatedly punched in the stomach by a policeman while other officers struggled to restrain the student, video taken by a bystander shows.

On Friday night at about 10 p.m. Cambridge police responded to the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Waterhouse Street after receiving calls about a naked man standing in the street. People who were with him told police that Ohene had taken drugs that likely had a hallucinogenic effect.

Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville G. Bard Jr. defended the officers, saying that trying to constrain someone against their will is always hard. "These seemed ineffective." Ohene was eventually handcuffed and placed in an ambulance, where he allegedly spat blood and saliva at the emergency medical technicians.

"This has been and continues to be a trying ordeal for Selorm and for his family", said his attorneys, Prof. Video of the incident (see an AP clip) shows officers surrounding Ohene, then one officer tackling him as he moves toward the officers.

"Although there has been significant extrajudicial commentary on Selorm's case, we do not intend to litigate these matters in the media".

Bard explained that after Ohene was brought down, he "contorted his body" in a way that pinned his arms beneath his body, thus making it impossible for the officers to handcuff him. He is still undergoing mental health examinations and has yet to be arraigned.

Meanwhile, video of the arrest sparked backlash throughout the university, including the Harvard Black Law Students Association, some of whom who were eyewitnesses.

"If anyone ever had to constrain an individual against their will, " Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville G. Bard Jr.

"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.

"The conduct of the CPD on the evening of April 13, 2018 was unacceptable", the statement read. "We are reminded, as soon-to-be-graduates of an elite law school that we can not protect our bodies with our degrees". They also called for police to respect people's First Amendment right to record video of police activity. The group has issued a statement calling it "a brutal instance of police violence" and demanded that officers involved "be investigated and held accountable".

Police Commissioner Bard has been very responsive to my questions about this incident, and I await the outcome of the internal review and analysis of this incident by the Professional Standards Unit. "Policing is Cambridge is far ahead of many communities across the country, and yet we can always strive to do better".

Cambridge Mayor Marc C. McGovern called the incident "disturbing" and said in a statement Sunday that "that the horrific treatment of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement has no place in Cambridge".

As a police department, our officers are rightfully required to uphold the high standards expected from the community, city leadership and police leadership. Police said Ohene became "aggressive, hostile, and intimidating" and approached officers with fists, forcing them to take action.

"Over the coming days, we will be seeking to determine what Harvard, as an institution, can learn from the incident", she said.

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