By Ieshaah Murphy, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Maryland, and Allison Heldreth, Public Defender, Prince George's County
Prince George’s County Police Officer Darryl Wormuth, who is white, was indicted in April on multiple charges for allegedly grabbing a 17-year-old Black teenager by the neck and assaulting him while he was in handcuffs. State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy publicly applauded the PGPD officers who reported Officer Wormuth, both of whom were Black, and vowed to continue investigating all of the circumstances of the alleged assault. But her words, without more, do little to realistically ensure the safety and protection of Black and brown residents in Prince George’s County from abusive officers like Wormuth.
That’s because Wormuth was on the force for over 13 years in a majority-Black county before he was ever criminally charged. All that time, he was patrolling communities, making arrests, testifying in court against those accused of crimes – overwhelmingly Black people accused of crimes – to secure convictions. Wormuth had been the subject of at least one prior police brutality lawsuit and he had a documented history of using force against Black residents.