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Date of Interaction: December 31, 2013
Police Employees Involved: TFC Nicholas E. Gresko and ST. Mary’s County Dep. Sheriff Waters, Badge 188
On New Years Eve, at approximately 7:00 PM, I left my father’s house. Two minutes into the drive, I remembered I had gloves that I received as a gift in my trunk. It was below twenty degrees this particular night so I stopped on the side of the road, used my signal and pulled to the shoulder on Clover Hill Road in Hollywood, MD. Roughly thirty seconds into my search for the gloves, an officer pulled behind me. He approached my vehicle and asked what I was doing. I explained that I was looking for gloves because I was freezing cold. I couldn’t find them and asked to head home.
The officer who pulled up was Officer Nicholas E. Gresko of the Maryland State Police. He shoved me in the back and demanded I place my hands on the vehicle. I asked “Sir, have I done something wrong?” to which he replied, “No, just keep your hands on the car.” I said “Sir, am I being detained?” to which he replied, “No, just keep your hands on the car.” I said then I would like to get home to my family. He replied, “No, just keep your hands on the car.” I asked again if I was being detained and received the same answer and result, except this time Officer Gresko shoved me again in the back.
I was getting nervous at this point as I heard him call in backup. I said, “Sir, if you are going to continue harassing me, I need to call 911. He said okay and we walked from the rear driver side door around to the passenger front door and I opened it and reached in to grab my phone. The entire time Officer Gresko had his hand on my shoulder guiding me. I called my parents, as I had just left there right before this incident took place. I explained that an officer was being physical with me and that I wanted someone to come witness to make sure I didn’t get hurt. Officer Gresko shoved my in the shoulder and the phone dropped into the passenger seat of the car. I reached back in and dialed 911.
While ringing, I turned around to close the door to the car and Gresko struck me in the back of the head. At this point I started to backpedal around my car, making sure to keep safe distance from the aggressive and violent officer. Officer Gresko threatened to shoot me if I continued and he proceeded to walk to his car. This is when he activated his emergency lights and in car dash camera. While on the phone with 911, I was begging for help and extremely frightened. Officer Waters of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office arrived and ordered me to the front of my car. I walked to the front of my car as ordered and put my free hand in the air, the other was on my phone. Officer Waters approached me and told me to turn around. I tried to explain that I didn’t want to turn around as every time I had turned my back for Gresko he assaulted me physically. Officer Waters then striked me in the throat/chest area, knocking the wind out of me. Gresko then grabbed my arms and Waters used a trained technique called a “knee strike” on my right thigh. This caused me to fall toward the ground, and as I was falling Officer Gresko punched me in the face twice.
While on the ground, my left arm was pinned under my body, and the officers were laying on me. They told me to place my hands behind my back, and I tried to plead that I couldn’t due to my arm being pinned, to which they responded, “Taze him.” I screamed, “Please don’t taze me!” The officers climbed off my back and Waters placed his boot in the middle of my back, pinning me to the ground, and ordered me to keep my head down. I looked up and asked, “Why am I even being handcuffed?” Waters replied, “How about resisting?” to which I naturally responded, “Resisting what?” as I had not been told I was under arrest at any point. Then Waters dragged me a few feet along the ground on my chest and face. Gresko walked to his car and then came back holding a clear container which appeared empty to me. He said I was under arrest for possession of marijuana.
I was transported to the detention center where I was strip searched and threatened again by Officer Gresko. This time he said to me, ” I don’t mean to be a dick, but I almost put two in your chest.” I was handcuffed and missed my first new years eve with my seven month old son. I have the 911 audio as well as one of the two in dash camera videos. The state wouldn’t provide the second video which more clearly shows the assault by the two officers, each of which stands nearly a foot taller than I am and probably has 50+ lbs on me. Officer Gresko then filed a false report claiming that he smelled marijuana on me and saw me with a plastic container that I threw into the woods. In the video though, from the dash camera, you hear him tell the other officers that I threw a silver container of crack cocaine. It is my firm belief that he did this so they would treat me as a hostile crackhead of sorts.
Officer Gresko then changed his official report to include the physical altercation, which had been left out the first time around. This time, he claimed that I punched and bit one of the officers on scene. This is an obvious lie and the video shows it. The container they claim was mine, was thrown away and a “baggie” of marijuana was sent up the road. This “baggie of marijuana” was apparently inside the plastic container, according the the altered “official report” of the events from the night. The weight of what was found was changed from 2.5 G down to .99 G.
So far we have police brutality, excessive use of force, falsifying an official police report, and tampering with evidence. The State Attorney had all of this information and would not drop the charges. Instead, they moved my court date without consulting my lawyer or myself. The reason was unclear at first but became clear the day of my trial when it was announced we had a new judge for the case. This judge was a former judge in a county about 45 minutes from where my trial took place, and he was apparently one to protect his law officials. I asked the state’s attorney again through my lawyer to drop the case and they refused. They wanted to give me a deal to drop the marijuana charge and move forward with resisting, as they had no chemist on scene and no container.
With all the evidence they did have, it should have been clear that I was fearing for my safety in any and all actions I took during the incident. However, they tried to lock me up for 90 days as a first time offender with absolutely no criminal history. I plan to file a civil lawsuit against the officer and anyone with information on the best way to approach this situation, please feel free to contact me. There is more to tell, but my hands are tired and I get shaky just thinking about it.