State Presents Case Against Resort Beach Brawl Suspects
OCEAN CITY — Trials began this week for four suspects arrested following a melee on the beach at North Division Street in July with testimony heard from several of the state’s witnesses, but the proceedings were continued until January when the defense will present its witnesses.
The four suspects in the July incident, including three men and one woman, who was nine months pregnant at the time and needed an emergency C-section following the near riot, appeared in District Court on Wednesday for the first day of their trials.
Throughout the day on Wednesday, prosecutors presented the testimony of several witnesses in support of the state’s case. However, in a somewhat unusual break from typical proceedings, the trials for the four defendants were stayed until January at which time the various defense attorneys will present their witnesses.
Around 2:30 p.m. on July 21, Ocean City Police responded to the beach at North Division Street for a reported group of disorderly males. The request for assistance came from an Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguard, who told police he approached the group to speak with them, at which time one of the suspect’s threatened him. At trial on Wednesday, one of the state’s witnesses testified he overheard someone threaten to kill the guard, which resulted in the rapid police response.
When OCPD officers attempted to speak with the suspect, identified as Abdul Kargbo, 25, of Woodbridge, Va., he allegedly began cursing and yelling at the officers and attempted to leave the scene. As officers attempted to arrest Kargbo, several other members in the disorderly group began to yell at police and act in a threatening manner, according to police reports.
What happened next, according to police reports on the incident and witnesses on the beach, was a pushing and shoving match between the suspects and police, including punches thrown, as officers attempted to detain the combatants. By that time, a large crowd had gathered, causing additional officers to respond to the scene.
Two other suspects, Musa Seisay, 24, of Garrisonville, Md., and Saidu Kargbo, 21, of Woodbridge, Va., allegedly assaulted officers and resisted arrest. A fourth individual, later identified as Dalima Palmer, 24, of Dumfries, Va., was also involved in the fray and allegedly verbally and physically abused the arresting officers, according to police reports.
During the struggle, Palmer was wrestled to the beach by OCPD officers and an attempt was made to handcuff her. When the dust settled, the three male suspects were charged with second-degree assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstructing and hindering. Palmer was also taken into custody and was transported to the Public Safety Building for processing.
During Palmer’s processing on charges of assault and reckless endangerment, she began to experience labor pains and she was transported to the hospital where she had an emergency C-section. Palmer’s charging process was later formally charged days later with second-degree assault, resisting arrest, obstructing and hindering and disorderly conduct.
Two days after the incident, the suspects’ family and friends told a Washington, D.C. television news station the Ocean City Police account of the incident was false and that the group was not being disruptive on the beach. The suspects’ relatives instead claimed the incident was veiled in hints of profiling and racism.
The suspects’ relatives provided the TV station with a cellphone video of a portion of the incident that clearly shows it escalating from a shouting match between the defendants and police to a physical confrontation with the pregnant Palmer right in the middle of the fray. The video went viral immediately and police officers were criticized in many circles for the brute force used on her.
From the beginning, however, OCPD officials stood by the actions of the officers under the circumstances.
“It’s very unfortunate the way the circumstances happened, but at this point, we’re standing behind the actions of our officers,” said OCPD Public Information Officer Lindsay O’Neal following the incident. “What we’re saying is, a video shows a very small portion of a much larger 360-degree view and not all of the actions that took place are depicted in it.”
O’Neal said at the time the OCPD took several witness reports on the beach and all were consistent with the police account of what took place. She also said if new evidence came to light, or a complaint was filed, a formal investigation would ensue. However, no formal complaint was filed and no further action was taken.
With the state’s presentation of its witnesses completed on Wednesday, the trials for the four defendants were stayed until Jan. 13, at which time the various defense attorneys will present their cases.