Montgomery Police Cleared of Abuse in Arrest

Article excerpt

An internal affairs investigation concluded yesterday that Montgomery County police used only necessary force and were not racially motivated when they arrested a Cloverly-area man in July.

Merlin Williams, 36, accused police of beating him, causing a kidney injury that kept him hospitalized 11 days. Eight police officers converged at his home in the 1100 block of Good Hope Drive as Mr. Williams held his wife around the neck.

"In this instance [the officers] were confronted with a violent and potentially dangerous situation," the internal affairs report concluded at the end of a five-month investigation. "The officers were neither abusive or racially motivated. . . . Mr. Williams was not mistreated."

Soon after the incident, officials of the county chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People accused police of frequently treating minorities with rudeness, abuse, harassment and insensitivity in recent years.

As result, the NAACP and police within the past month have separately appointed task forces to monitor complaints and improve relations between police and minorities.

Internal affairs did cite two officers for "administrative errors," although Chief Carol Mehrling said the errors did not affect the incident. The officers will have the right to appeal the discipline she hands out, although she would not say what the discipline will be.

The incident began at 9:40 p.m. July 30, when Mr. Williams' 9-year-old son called 911 twice. A black police officer arrived first at the house on Good Hope Drive.

Investigators confirmed her report that Mr. Williams, who is black, was holding his wife, Catherine, who is white, around the neck near the entrance of the home. …