Suspect Charged After Choking Cop

OCEAN CITY — A Parsonsburg man faces first-degree assault charges this week after allegedly choking an Ocean City police officer who was attempting to stop him from walking in traffic.

Around 5:45 p.m. last Saturday, an officer was patrolling in the area of Coastal Highway and 71st Street when he observed an individual, later identified as Joshua Bell, 21, of Parsonsburg, walking in the bus lane along the busy highway at that time of day. The officer was stopped at a red light when he observed Bell walk out into the highway as the light changed to green.

The officer then conducted a pedestrian stop on Bell, who was walking into the highway with traffic flowing in both directions. According to police reports, the officer instructed Bell to walk back to the sidewalk at 70th Street, but Bell was uncooperative and refused to move out of the roadway. Bell stood in the northbound lanes of Coastal Highway at 70th Street, causing three vehicles to stop abruptly to avoid hitting the suspect and the officer.

According to the officer’s report, Bell was foaming at the mouth with an unknown pink substance and was unable to make coherent, audible messages when the officer spoke to him. The officer reported Bell’s eyes were glazed over in a “thousand yard stare.”

The officer reported he was concerned for Bell’s and his own safety and wanted to allow traffic to resume normal activity, so he attempted to escort Bell out of the highway by taking hold of his upper arm and leading toward the sidewalk. Bell then turned around and mumbled something inaudibly before wrapping his fingers around the officer’s throat for several seconds, all while continuing to look at the officer with the “thousand yard stare.”

The officer was able to push away from Bell’s grip around his throat and continued to escort him to the sidewalk with traffic stopping in both directions. Once on the sidewalk, Bell approached an adult male and two adult females standing by their vehicle. According to police reports, Bell began to lean on one of the females, causing the male in the group to confront him, although the officer defused the situation and the three individuals left the scene and walked toward the beach, according to police reports.

Bell was arrested and charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault, second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and hindering the right of free passage. He was later released on a $5,000 bond.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.