Jury Finds Baltimore Man Guilty Of Assault In Knife Threat On OC Cop

Jury Finds Baltimore Man Guilty Of Assault In Knife Threat On OC Cop
Photo by Chris Parypa

SNOW HILL — A Baltimore man, arrested in June after pulling a switchblade on an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer who nearly had to shoot him, was found guilty Tuesday on assault and weapons charges and now faces as many as 10 years in jail.

It took a Worcester County Circuit Court jury a little over 10 minutes to return with guilty verdicts on all charges for Jordan Kuzma, 19, for the incident in June 2017 in Ocean City. Kuzma was found guilty of second-degree assault, possession of a dangerous weapon and wearing and carrying an assisted-opening knife within city limits. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered to allow prosecutors to explore Kuzman’s juvenile record. The second-degree assault charge carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

Around 12:30 p.m. last June 18, 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.

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 Kuzma 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 departmentally-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 the officer with the knife in his hand.

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.


Jordan Kuzma

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.

During trial, it came to light Kuzma remained combative with the police after being arrested. He repositioned his handcuffs from behind his back to the front of his person during the transport to the Public Safety Building and threatened to spit in the officers’ faces. On Tuesday, it took just 11 minutes to return a guilty verdict on all charges against Kuzma.

Deputy State’s Attorney William McDermott praised Sergeant Frank Wrench’s extraordinary restraint during the incident.

“But for the incredible resolve, strength and courage of Sergeant Wrench, this defendant would not be here today,” he said. “Sergeant Wrench was faced with a life or death situation and, at his own peril, he chose to put his safety at risk to protect the life of a man who was coming at him with an open switchblade. His actions were nothing less than heroic.”

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.