Cops & Courts – February 19, 2021

Cops & Courts – February 19, 2021

Downtown Bar Brawl

OCEAN CITY — An Ocean Pines man was arrested on second-degree assault charges last week after allegedly causing a ruckus at a downtown bar.

Shortly before 8 p.m. last Monday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer responded to a bar on Somerset Street for a reported disorderly male and possible an assault. Upon arrival, the officer met with a witness on the sidewalk outside the bar who was waving his arms to gain the officer’s attention, according to police reports.

The witness reportedly told the officer “You’re going to have to call for backup,” before advising there was a large, intoxicated male inside the bar that was acting erratically and putting his hands on people. The witness told police the suspect was “going crazy in there” and advised the officer multiple times he was going to need to call for backup, according to police reports.

On the witness’s advice, the officer looked through the bar window and observed a male suspect, later identified as Eric Swanson, 51, of Ocean Pines, holding onto a male victim, who was struggling to break free, according to police reports. The officer reportedly entered the bar and drew his Taser. When the officer entered, Swanson was still holding on to the victim, who continued to struggle. Another male victim was in the same area standing near the two men who were grappling, according to police reports.

The officer placed his Taser in an armed position, aimed it at Swanson and ordered him to stop. Swanson did stop eventually and held his arms out to the side and complied with the officer’s orders to lay on the ground. Swanson was then detained without further incident.

The victim thanked the officer profusely and told him he was just trying to buy time until the police arrived. The victim said the witness out on the sidewalk was his roommate. The witness reportedly told the victim something was going to happen in the bar, which is when the victim went back inside to assist a bar staffer who was attempting to control Swanson, according to police reports. The bar staffer told police Swanson was a regular customer who was often touchy-feely, but had an alpha personality and often took physical contact too far, according to police reports. The bar staffer said the altercation began when Swanson allegedly grabbed his mask and ripped it off his face, according to police reports. Based on the evidence and testimony, Swanson was arrested on two counts of second-degree assault and disorderly conduct. He was also issued a permanent trespass warning for the bar.


Uptown Domestic Assault

OCEAN CITY — A local man was arrested last weekend for second-degree assault after allegedly striking his girlfriend during a domestic incident at an uptown condo.

Around 7:30 p.m. last Sunday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to a residence on Jamaica Avenue for a reported domestic dispute. Upon arrival, the officer encountered a group of people outside who advised they had observed a male suspect, later identified as Robert Game, 58, of Ocean City, push a female victim in front of a condo unit, according to police reports.

The female victim reportedly approached the officer and advised she was in a relationship with Game and that they had been arguing all day. The victim told police Game was constantly jealous and accused her of cheating before becoming violent just prior to the officer’s arrival, according to police reports.

The victim reportedly told police Game had slapped her on the side of her face with an open palm before pushing her down on a bed and getting on top of her. The officer reportedly observed the left side of the victim’s face with swollen and bruising with two diagonal red cuts on her cheek. According to police reports, when the victim finally looked in a mirror, she was taken aback by the severity of the injuries to the side of her face.

Based on the evidence and testimony, Game was arrested and charged with second-degree assault.


Another Guilty Plea In Boardwalk Assault

SNOW HILL — One of four suspects charged with armed robbery and first-degree assault for their roles in a gunpoint robbery involving a shotgun on the Boardwalk in August pleaded guilty this week to one count of second-degree assault and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered.

Joshua Benitez, now 18, of Lorton, Va., pleaded guilty last week to one count of second-degree assault for his role in the August 26 incident on the Boardwalk. Last month, James Watson, 17, of Alexandria, Va., on Thursday pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree assault for his role in the August 26 incident. He was sentenced to 12 years, including 10 for one count and one year each for the other two counts. All but five years of which were suspended. Another suspect charged in the incident had the charges against him dropped in November. The fourth suspect in the case has yet to appear for trial.

Around 2:15 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2020, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer on bicycle patrol was dispatched to the area of 12th Street and the Boardwalk for a reported assault with gun. As the bicycle officer made his way to the scene, the officer observed a suspect matching the description provided by Ocean City Communications running west toward Baltimore Avenue. The officer detained the suspect, later identified Watson, 17.

OCPD officers viewed the City Watch video footage of the incident and observed Watson walking down the Boardwalk carrying a shotgun. The officer who first detained Watson reported never seeing Watson in possession of the shotgun, but witnesses told police Watson handed the weapon to a friend, who went back to their vehicle.

OCPD officers interviewed the female victim, who reportedly told police Watson had robbed her and her 10-year-old niece. The victim told police Watson held her 10-year-old niece at gunpoint and demanded her cell phone, according to police reports. The victim told police she grabbed the cell phone from her niece and told the child to run away, according to police reports.

The victim reportedly told officers she attempted to call the police, but Watson’s friend, later identified as Benitez, grabbed the phone from her and physically assaulted her. The victim told police Watson handed the shotgun to another friend, later identified as Alexis Cabrera, 17, of Lorton, Va. The witness told police Watson then attempted to rob her of her wallet, but she was able to get away.

According to City Watch footage, Watson enters the screen frame carrying the black shotgun by his side and physically assaulted a male victim by striking him in the face, according to police reports. Watson then allegedly handed the shotgun to Cabrera and continued to argue with the victim. The footage also revealed Benitez assaulting the female victim and taking the cell phone.

According to police reports, another male victim, possibly the female victim’s boyfriend, attempted to run after Benitez. Watson chased the male victim and struck and kicked him all in the same motion. One witness reportedly told police they heard the pumping and wracking the shotgun. After Watson handed the shotgun to Cabrera, he ran from the Boardwalk, which is when he was first encountered by the bicycle officer responding to the scene.

According to witnesses, Cabrera, Benitez and a third suspect, later identified as Micah Younger, 18, of Manassas, Va., left the area with the shotgun in a silver Honda. A short time later, Maryland State Police located the suspect vehicle in West Ocean City and initiated a traffic stop. Inside the vehicle were Cabrera, Younger and Benitez. The MSP trooper also observed the shotgun in plain view in the vehicle.