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Harvard Lawyers Defend Naked Student in High-Profile Beating Case

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 18, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With video of the arrest in, the jury is already out in the case of a naked Harvard student who was subdued by police on the streets of Cambridge.

No actual trial has started -- against the mathematics student or the local police -- but the graphic video includes voice-overs from bystanders who have already rendered their verdict in the court of public opinion.

"Hey, stop f****** punching him," says one of several people who condemned the cops at the scene. "We got this recorded."

'Video Speaks for Itself'

Selorm Ohene, 21, was charged with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, and related crimes. But the backlash against the police may be more serious.

The Cambridge mayor, Harvard's president and the Harvard Black Law Students Association have spoken out regarding the "profoundly disturbing incident." Two Harvard law professors have stepped in to represent Ohene.

Despite the national spotlight on the case, Ronald F. Sullivan Jr. and Dehlia Umunna said they do not intend to litigate the case in the press. Enough has been said already.

"As the public is aware, several students captured the incident on their cell phones," the professors said in a statement. "The video speaks for itself."

Police Report

Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville Bard, Jr. said he "absolutely" supports the officers in the arrest. However, pursuant to policy, the department is conducting an internal review of the incident.

The law student association calls it an act of police brutality, but the law professors have not said whether they will pursue a civil rights case against the police. For now, they are defending the student.

Sullivan, who is the faculty director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute, has tried high-profile cases before. He defended football player Aaron Hernandez in a double-murder trial, and he represented the family of Michael Brown, a black teenager who was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

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