SNOW HILL — Two suspects found guilty in February for their roles in a melee on the beach in Ocean City now face much more trouble after failing to appear in court last week for proceedings related to their appeals and are now technically being considered escaped convicts.
Two of the four suspects charged in the incident last July, including Dalima Palmer, 25, of Dumfries, Va., who was nine months pregnant at the time and ultimately needed an emergency C-section following the brawl, along with her fiancé, Musa Seisay, 25, of Garrisonville, Md., were found guilty of second-degree assault in February and each was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Palmer and Seisay quickly filed appeals, forwarding their cases to Worcester County Circuit Court. The appeals filed by attorney Bruce Johnson on behalf of Palmer and Seisay temporarily stayed the suspects’ 30-day sentences as the appeal process was initiated in Circuit Court.
A necessary first step in the appeals process was the arraignment of Palmer and Seisay in Circuit Court. That proceeding was scheduled for last Wednesday. However, neither Palmer nor Seisay showed up for their arraignments, which led the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office to ask for an immediate dismissal of the appeals.
Once the Circuit Court judge agreed to dismiss the appeals after determining the suspects had been properly served with the appropriate paperwork, the cases against Palmer and Seisay reverted back to the District Court where they had been convicted in February and each sentenced to 30 days.
Technically at that point, Palmer and Seisay were considered escaped convicts. The following day, the Worcester County Jail charged Palmer and Seisay with second-degree escape, although they had not been located and served with the new charges as of late Thursday. Essentially, the couple that was facing 30 days each for the second-degree assault convictions are now facing up to three years and a fine of up to $5,000 for the new second-degree escape charges.
Abdul Kargbo, 25, of Woodbridge, Va., another suspect in the beach brawl, was found guilty of disorderly conduct in February and was also sentenced to 30 days, but did not appeal. A fourth defendant, Saidu Kargbo, 21, of Woodbridge, was found guilty of second-degree assault and was fined and placed on probation.
Around 2:30 p.m. on July 21, 2013, Ocean City Police responded to the beach at N. 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 about playing soccer on the crowded beach, at which time one of the suspects allegedly threatened him.
When OCPD officers attempted to speak with Abdul Kargbo, 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 group began to yell at police and act in a threatening manner, according to police reports and testimony during the state’s case.
What happened next, according to police reports and witnesses on the beach, was a pushing a 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.
According to police reports and testimony at trial, Seisay and Saidu Kargbo allegedly assaulted officers and resisted arrest. Palmer was also involved in the fray and allegedly verbally and physically abused the arresting officers. During the struggle, Palmer was wrestled to the beach by OCPD officers and an attempt was made to handcuff her. She was eventually taken into custody and 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 was formally charged days later after the birth of her child with assault, resisting arrest, obstructing and hindering and disorderly conduct.
Two days after the incident, the suspects’ family and friends told a Washington, D.C. area TV news station the Ocean City Police account of the incident was false and the group was not being disruptive on the beach. Instead, the suspects’ version claimed the incident was veiled in hints of racism and profiling. A cell phone video of a portion of the incident 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, which was shown again during the trial, went viral almost immediately and police officers were criticized in many circles for the alleged excessive force used on the pregnant Palmer. From the beginning, however, OCPD officials stood by the actions of the officers under the circumstances.