- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A Charles County man said this week that he will contest a charge that he committed an assault early Christmas Day at the Maryland State Police barrack in Leonardtown, where he claims that he suffered fractured ribs and other injuries.
“I could have lost my life that night,” Keith Vincent Stout, 52, said of his experience at the barrack, after his arrest on Christmas Eve on Route 5 near Great Mills on traffic charges including driving under the influence.
Stout filed a complaint with the state agency, and the state police response states that Stout’s allegations against Sgt. Steven B. Koch and Trooper Eric Reuschling will be investigated.
“The department prides itself on the professionalism of our troopers, and we insist that they treat everyone with respect,” police Detective Sgt. Kevin L. Beauchamp from the La Plata barrack wrote earlier this month to Stout. “Behavior to the contrary is not tolerated.”
Koch and Reuschling remain on full active duty, police Lt. Michael Thompson, the Leonardtown barrack’s commander, said this week, declining further comment until the investigation is completed.
Stout is scheduled to face trial in March on the second-degree assault charge, in court papers alleging he was being booked on the DUI charge at the Leonardtown barrack’s troopers’ room when he broke a fan stand over Koch’s back.
Stout said this week that he admitted he had been drinking when police stopped the van he was driving, and that he told them that he formerly worked as a law enforcement officer with the Department of Defense security force at Joint Base Andrews.
“They did not take that into consideration. They did what they wanted to do with me,” Stout said.
Stout said he was pulled out of the van, that his face was slammed into the hood of a police cruiser and that his body was slammed against the back of his vehicle.
“I was not resisting,” he said. “I cooperated with them to the fullest extent.”
He said he’s been subjected to being picked on many times before.
“I’m a little guy. I’ve been fighting all my life,” he said. “People are aggressive with me because I’m little.”
Stout said that he repeatedly asked that he be taken directly to jail, but that he first was taken into the police barrack.
Reuschling filed a statement of probable cause alleging that Stout, who had refused a roadside sobriety test and an intoximeter test at the barrack, “became more and more irate” before Koch came in “to maintain the peace.” As Koch asked Reuschling a question, charging papers allege, Stout picked up a fan on a five-foot stand and broke the stand in half over Koch’s back.
Koch did not require medical care or a change in his duty status after the incident, the barrack commander said.
Stout said this week that he was handcuffed behind his back when he was grabbed by the neck in the troopers’ room and thrown across the room into a table. Stout said that he was kicked and knocked to the floor, and was repeatedly kicked in the lower back, before he was dragged by his feet and clothing to be thrown into a police cruiser and taken to the nearby jail.
“I was screaming. I was crying,” Stout said, and he said he could not have attacked anyone at that time. “How did I assault somebody while I was handcuffed? I never assaulted the police officers. That fan probably got broke while they were doing what they wanted to do to me behind that door.”
Stout said that once he got to jail, he was denied a trip to a hospital’s emergency room, and was instead examined by a medical technician at the jail. After his release the next day on $10,000 bond, Stout went to a Veterans Administration hospital, where a Dec. 27 report states he was diagnosed with rib fractures and contusions. He was instructed to use an incentive spirometer, a device intended to assist breathing.
Stout said his kidneys still hurt from the repeated kicks he endured at the barrack.
He said he is scheduled to meet with police next week as they investigate his complaint, and that he will contest the assault charge against him when he goes to court in March.
“I don’t think I should have been charged. I never put my hands on nobody,” he said. “If this can happen to me, this can happen to anybody. Something needs to be done about it.”