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An outside investigation of the Aberdeen Police Department has concluded there was “insufficient evidence” to substantiate allegations two of its officers acted with an excessive force during an incident in East Aberdeen last February.

In praising the findings of the investigation, the union which represents the city’s police officers issued a press release sharply criticizing the Harford County NAACP for filing a complaint against the two officers.

The tone of that press release has in turn has caused dissension among some members of the union, most notably its president who said he disagrees with what the union said. He has since resigned.

The February incident, in which several black people were detained by white police officers, once again brought out a long-standing enmity between the city’s black community and the mostly white police department, the latter which has become highly politicized in recent years. The NAACP alleged the officers involved used excessive force, allegedly kicking and stomping a woman, while police officials countered that an officer was assaulted while properly performing his duties. Four people were arrested on assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges.

The Office of Professional Standards of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation, the results of which were made public this week by the city police department.

“The Professional Standards Office concluded there was insufficient evidence to substantiate any civil rights or departmental rules of conduct violations,” the Aberdeen Police Department said in a press release.

Monica Worrell, public information specialist for the sheriff’s office, confirmed the results of the investigation.

Aberdeen Police Department spokesman Sgt. Fred Budnick said Thursday the department will not release the sheriff’s report.

Meanwhile, the president of the Harford NAACP declined to comment, saying they want to see the report first.

“We would like to see everything before we make any comments,” Zilpha Smith, president of the local chapter, said in a phone interview Thursday.

Wednesday afternoon, Lodge 128 of the Fraternal Order of Police issued a press release praising the findings of the investigation and condemning the actions of the NAACP, calling its complaints “fraudulent and unwarranted.”

The press release said the police union was disappointed that the NAACP “would hold a press conference and slander, defame, and call for the firing of an officer before a fair and impartial investigation was completed” and “would use scare tactics by saying if the investigation did not turn out the way they wanted it to; they will take their complaint to the Federal Level.”

“It just seems that the NAACP has segregated the community,” Jason Neidig, vice president and secretary of Lodge 128, said in a phone interview Thursday, adding that the NAACP is never happy with the Aberdeen Police Department.

Neidig said the NAACP will ask the Aberdeen Police to be proactive and combat drugs and gangs and then will turn around and claim too much force is used by police officers. The NAACP’s Smith said the organization was never sent a copy of the lodge’s press release or contacted in any way, and has only heard of the comments.

“That is disrespectful to our organization,” Smith said, adding that the NAACP will not comment until it has the opportunity to read the union’s comments.

While the FOP press release criticizing the NAACP was signed by all four board members of the local lodge, President William Benjamin Lay, Jr. said he did not agree with what was in the press release and resigned from his leadership position Thursday.

“In my letter of resignation, I stated that the FOP needs to pick its battles and stay out of local politics,” Lay, who has served as president since last January, said. “I don’t think this is a battle we should have fought; it should have been fought by the [Aberdeen] Police Department alone.”

Lay said he voted against the final version of the press release.

“It’s just a differing of opinion,” Lay said, adding that he has nothing against the members of Lodge 128 and will still remain a member of the organization. “I just think they are going down a road they don’t need to be going down.”

Neidig, who sources said is in line to succeed Lay as lodge president, said he did not want to comment about Lay’s resignation until he had the opportunity to review Lay’s letter of resignation in detail. Last week, the FOP lodge, endorsed city council president Mike Hiob in his bid to unseat Mayor Mike Bennett in the Nov. 3 city election.

Neidig, who is the police union’s spokesman and a member of the Aberdeen police force, said the union represents 75 members from municipal police departments in Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace, 40 to 50 who live in Aberdeen. Neidig, who himself lives in Perryville, said the union endorsed Hiob because it believes Bennett dislikes Chief Randy Rudy, which has in turn adversely affected “the operations and morale” of the department.

At the center of the dispute between the NAACP and the police were the alleged actions of two Aberdeen officers, J.R. Adkins and C. William Reiber.

In February, according to court records, police had responded to a disturbance at the Boys & Girls Club on East Bel Air Avenue, where an officer was making an arrest and claimed he was being assaulted.

Deon Brooks-Anderson, 18, and his sister Jasmine Brooks, 19, and Troy Maye, 29, and his sister Trashel Maye, 26, were arrested after the police initially stopped Troy Maye for allegedly loitering outside a convenience store. Three live in Aberdeen, the other in Perrywood Gardens just outside the city limits.

Brooks-Anderson, Brooks, Trashel Maye and Troy Maye were all charged with second degree assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Brooks-Anderson, Brooks and Trashel Maye were also charged with obstructing and hindering police.

Trashel Maye, Troy Maye and Deon Brooks-Anderson were subsequently indicted on criminal charges in April. Their jury trials are scheduled for Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m.

Brooks pleaded guilty to second degree assault and disorderly conduct on July 28. The charges of obstructing and hindering police were dropped.

For the second degree assault charge, Brooks was sentenced one year in jail with 11 months and 21 days suspended.

With one day of jail credit, Brooks served the remaining nine days as consecutive weekends at the Harford County Detention Center. She was also sentenced to 15 hours of community service, which has since been completed and will be on unsupervised probation for one year.

For disorderly conduct Brooks was sentenced to 60 days in jail, which was suspended.

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