OCEAN CITY — A Baltimore man was arrested on first-degree assault after allegedly pulling a switchblade on an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer and continuing to come toward him to the point the officer had to threaten to shoot him.
Around 12:30 p.m. last Saturday, an OCPD officer was working in a covert capacity around 3rd Street and Baltimore Avenue searching with other officers for a robbery suspect. The OCPD officers observed a group of about eight males standing on the sidewalk on 3rd Street outside City Hall. As the officers approached, the group of about eight males abruptly split in several directions and began to run away from the area. According to police reports, the officers observed frightened expressions on the faces of at least two of the males.
The OCPD officer exited the unmarked patrol vehicle and began to approach the bushes on the south side of City Hall to see if any of the suspects who had fled were hiding there. As the officer stepped out of the street and onto the sidewalk, he noticed a male suspect, later identified as Jordan Kuzma, 19, of Baltimore, lurking on the sidewalk about 20 feet away from the officer.
According to police reports, Kuzma appeared to be hiding behind a parked Jeep Wrangler. The officer didn’t expect to see Kuzma hiding behind the Jeep, but Kuzma turned to face the officer, produced a knife from his right pants pocket and flicked his right hand, extending the knife’s blade into the open position.
According to police reports, Kuzma then pointed the knife in the officer’s direction at waist level. Kuzma began to approach the officer with the knife still pointed at him and did not say anything as he advanced. The officer drew his department-issued handgun and pointed it at Kuzma, yelling “Police, get on the ground.”
Kuzma ignored the order and continued to advance toward the officer with the knife pointed at him. Again, the officer announced himself as police and ordered Kuzma to get to the ground, but Kuzma continued to advance toward him with the knife.
By that point, Kuzma was about three feet away and the officer believed the suspect intended to stab him, according to police reports. The officer yelled one more time “get on the ground or I am going to shoot you.” At that point, Kuzma saw the officer’s handgun and dropped the knife, but oddly continued to advance on the officer.
The OCPD officer then grabbed Kuzma by the front of his shirt with his left hand and wrestled him to the ground while still covering him with the gun in his right hand. Kuzman hit the ground face-first and the officer placed his handgun in the suspect’s back and told him not to move. Several other officers were still in the area searching for a robbery suspect and one officer came over and handcuffed Kuzma.
Other OCPD officers recovered the knife and determined it to be a spring-loaded switchblade-style weapon. When the initial OCPD officer interviewed Kuzma, the suspect said he had not been in a fight or any altercation and was not certain why he was handcuffed. According to police reports, he denied being in possession of a knife and did not recall being in the altercation with the officer.
When the officer reminded Kuzma that it was the officer who had taken him to the ground, Kuzma got angry and said the officer and other OCPD officers were the only ones who had assaulted him. Kuzma was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and related weapons charges. He was later released after posting a $20,000 bond.