OCEAN CITY – A Delmar man, arrested in July during a near-riot outside an underage nightclub that triggered an internal review of Ocean City Police Department’s handling of another arrest made during the incident, was found guilty this week of disorderly conduct and sentenced to 30 days in jail.
On July 5, shortly after midnight, OCPD officers were on routine patrol in the area of an underage nightclub on Worcester Street when they observed a shirtless male, later identified as Mu-hammed Purnell, 20, of Delmar, jumping up and down and allegedly inciting the large crowd that had gathered. Purnell was ultimately arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after the melee that required 16 OCPD officers including two mounted units to quell.
Purnell was ultimately arrested along with Martin Ward III, 20, of Salisbury, and four juveniles during the incident. On Monday, Purnell was found guilty of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
A six-second video of Ward’s arrest during the incident quickly went viral on various social media platforms that alleged the OCPD officers flipped him over so that he could be handcuffed and also appears to show another OCPD officer punching the suspect while he was on the ground in order to gain compliance.
The video was first posted on Twitter and was later picked up on Facebook by a page titled Revolution News, which appears to highlight cases of apparent police brutality across the U.S. and abroad along with cases of perceived injustice. Because the video garnered so much public attention, and because there is more and more scrutiny on real and perceived cases of police brutality in recent years, the OCPD’s Office of Professional Standards is reviewing the footage to ensure the department’s protocols were observed and the officers’ actions were not excessive.
The OCPD’s internal review of the video clip of the incident drew no firm conclusions on the alleged mishandling of the suspect and it appears protocols were observed by police during the incident. This week, the OCPD handling of the incident was vindicated somewhat when Purnell was found guilty in District Court of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
According to police reports of the July 5 incident, several individuals in the crowd that had gathered tried to calm Purnell down at which point he cupped his hands around his mouth, drew his head back and screamed “[expletive deleted] 12.” The phrase is a slang term popular in certain communities meaning [expletive deleted] the police.
According to police reports, roughly 100 people gathered around the scene.