‘I Felt Betrayed’: A Black Maryland Cop Blew the Whistle on Racist Text Message and Abuse In His Department. Now He’s Afraid for His Life

A Black Prince George’s County police officer is afraid for his safety after he reported a fellow officer for a use-of-force violation against a suspect who turned out to be misidentified.

In October 2020, Officer Michael Brown had been on duty in the Maryland county with fellow officer Cpl. Darryl Wormuth. Together, they tracked down an armed 17-year-old suspect named Kayvon Hines. After successfully restraining him, Wormuth struck the teen in the throat.

Prince George's County Questionable History Against the Black Community Continues
Micheal Brown testifying in court (WMAR-2 Youtube Video: Police file lawsuit against Prince George’s County alleging racial discrimination). Darryl Wormuth at a press conference (Fox 5/ YouTube screenshot )

Authorities soon found that Hines was wrongly identified as the suspect the officers were meant to be after.

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Brown told NBC4 Washington he was alarmed because their department was never trained to put their hands on anyone’s neck.

Brown, with the assistance of his partner, PGPD officer Thomas Lester, reported Wormuth, resulting in Wormuth getting charged with misconduct in office and second-degree assault.

Wormuth was originally sentenced to 45 days in jail and had his police powers suspended for the assault and misconduct charges. But the sentence was put on hold when new evidence came to light.

During the investigation, officials found a long series of racist exchanges on Wormuth’s phone between him and other officers working within the department. One text exchange showed Wormuth calling African-Americans “f*cking animals” and referring to Black police officers as “Black people in a white man’s job.”

Yet despite stepping up to do the right thing, Brown was quite discouraged during Wormuth’s trial when he saw how many of his fellow mostly white officers supported Wormuth. Brown openly admitted to the fact that he felt that his department was doing little to protect him from his co-workers throughout the process of the investigation.

According to Brown, he and the officers that stood with him have now become known as the “snitches” and have been labeled as other derogatory terms within the department. Accusations also surfaced of officers conspiring to not back up Brown’s squad in the line of duty in retaliation.

“I felt betrayed,” Brown said in an interview with NBC4 Washington.

Brown said he was also left in the dark throughout most of the investigation regarding the full contents of the texts and who sent them, never knowing who was truly out to get him at any time.

“My safety… wasn’t a priority,” he said.

This isn’t the first time a PGPD officer has been guilty of violent acts against citizens. In January 2020, the same year as the incident involving the misidentified suspect, Cpl. Micheal Owen shot and killed a 43-year-old Black man named William Green after he was already handcuffed.

Later that year, the court ordered the department to deliver $20 million in settlement money to Green’s family.

The summer of that year was filled with protests in the county over police brutality. The department faced accusations of hiring racist officers to protect and serve the community.

During the initial week of the protests, the police chief at the time, Hank Stawinski, stepped down after four years in office. A lawsuit was filed against the department in 2018 for violating racial discrimination laws.

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