Former Prince George's County officer sentenced in assault of citizen who became paralyzed

A former Prince George's County officer learned his prison sentence Thursday after being found guilty in May of second degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office for assaulting a citizen while he was handcuffed behind his back.

Bryant Strong was sentenced to 10 years in prison with nine of those years suspended. He will also be on supervised probation for three years after his release.

The incident happened during a traffic stop in Oxon Hill in 2019. Officials say Bryant Strong initiated a traffic stop on Brierfield and Wheeler Roads in Oxon Hill for displaying expired tags. The officer made contact with the driver of the vehicle, Demonte Ward-Blake, 24, of District Heights.

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At some point during the interaction, the officer unholstered his weapon. Ward-Blake became verbally agitated at that time but continued to cooperate and comply with the officer’s orders.  

After additional officers, including Strong, responded to the scene for backup, Ward-Blake was placed under arrest.

Subsequently, Strong stood Ward-Blake up near the passenger side of the police cruiser to conduct a search of Ward-Blake’s person. During the search, Ward-Blake turned his body towards Strong, at which time Strong pushed Ward-Blake against the cruiser to continue the search and then took Ward-Blake to the ground.

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As a result, Ward-Blake sustained serious injuries that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

"Officers are expected to protect the public; however, when they don’t and their actions cause harm, they will be held accountable," said State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy. "No one is above the law and it is my job to enforce the law and to ensure that the public is protected. I am pleased that today’s sentencing brings closure to this very tragic case for Demonte Ward-Blake’s family and this community"

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In February, Ward-Blake's family filed a $75 million lawsuit against Prince George's County and the arresting officer, claiming there's a pattern of racist and heavy-handed policing.