OCEAN CITY — Three of the four suspects found guilty last month on assault and other charges stemming from last summer’s beach melee with police will get another day in court after filing appeals this week.
Two of the defendants, including Dalima Palmer, 25, of Dumfries, Va., who was nine months pregnant during the incident 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 were sentenced to 30 days in jail. Abdul Kargbo, 25, of Woodbridge, Va., was found guilty of disorderly conduct in February and was also sentenced to 30 days. A fourth defendant, Saidu Kargbo, 21, of Woodbridge, was found guilty of second-degree assault and was fined and placed on supervised probation.
Attorney Bruce Johnson, who represents Palmer and Seisay, this week filed appeals on behalf of his clients and their cases will now be heard again in Worcester County Circuit Court in front of a jury. Abdul Kargbo has a reconsideration hearing set for District Court in Ocean City on March 19. Saidu Kargbo, who did not receive any jail time, has not filed for an appeal or reconsideration hearing.
Johnson said this week he filed appeals on behalf of Palmer and Seisay because of a desire to have the rather volatile case heard in front of a jury.
“There are things a jury may be more acutely aware of, and we want to have these cases heard in front of their peers,” he said. “We’re convinced they didn’t do anything wrong and that they didn’t assault any police officers.”
Palmer and Seisay will likely be arraigned in Circuit Court as soon as next week with new trials several weeks down the road. Johnson pointed out both Palmer and Seisay were also charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing and hindering, but were found not guilty on those counts. Palmer and Seisay were sentenced to 30 days, but neither is currently in custody pending their appeals.
“They were acquitted on three of the four counts, so we believe there is enough reasonable doubt to appeal,” he said. “Once we get these facts in front of a jury, we’re confident we will have a different outcome.”
Around 2:30 p.m. on July 21, 2013, 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 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 in November.
What happened next, according to police reports 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. However, the defense witnesses called on Wednesday painted a different picture of the events leading up to the incident, calling the lifeguard and ultimately the OCPD officers as the aggressors during the confrontation.
According to police reports and testimony in November, 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 earlier this year, 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.