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Baltimore Shomrim Trial: 1 Brother Convicted In Assault Of Black Teen; 2nd Brother Cleared Of Charges [UPDATED]

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Pamela J. White convicted Eliyahu Werdesheim, one of the two brothers accused of assaulting a teenager in Northwest Baltimore, of false imprisonment and second degree assault Thursday afternoon, following a week-long trial. The second brother, Avi, was cleared of all charges.

Eliyahu Werdesheim, 24, and his brother Avi Werdesheim, 22, were charged with second-degree assault, false imprisonment and carrying a deadly weapon — a walkie-talkie issued by a neighborhood watch group — with the intent to injure. Eliyahu Werdesheim was cleared of the weapons charge. His sentencing is scheduled for June 27.

Speaking about Eliyahu, Judge White said, “He relied on his military training to take Ausby down.”

“I also find that the contact was not legally justified.”

The state argued that the Werdesheim brothers intimidated Corey Ausby, 16, as he walked down a residential street in Park Heights to a bus stop, causing the teen to pull a nail-studded board from a construction site. In response, the brothers surrounded the teen, struck him in the head with a walkie-talkie and held him on the ground, Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Wiggins told White during the trial.

There’s no question that the elder brother, Eliyahu, was a member of Shomrim, an Orthodox Jewish citizens’ watch group, on Nov. 19, 2010, when he and his brother responded to a suspicious-person call that came over the walkie-talkie. The brothers were in Eliyahu’s car, on their way home between noon and 1 p.m., when Eliyahu decided to look for the suspect in the 3200 block of Fallstaff Road.

Defense attorneys argued that when the Werdesheims arrived on the scene, they witnessed Ausby looking in the windows of homes and pulling on the handle of an SUV’s passenger door.

As any neighborhood watch member would, Eliyahu began following and watching Ausby from his car, according to his attorney, Andrew I. Alperstein. Avi was not a Shomrim member and just happened to be in the car with his brother at the time of the incident, said Susan R. Green, the younger Werdesheim’s attorney.

Both sides agree that the brothers got out of the car and spoke to Ausby after they watched him for a while. What was said during that conversation is contested.

Though the brothers were not charged with a hate crime, Wiggins argued that the white, Jewish men told the black, male teen — a “child,” according to the prosecutor — that he was not welcome in the neighborhood. The defendants argued that any statement made to Ausby that he didn’t “belong around here,” according to police charging documents, was made because it was the middle of a school day and the teen should have been in class.

Regardless of what was said, both the state and defense believe that the conversation came to an end and Ausby walked over to a construction site, broke a board off of a wooden pallet and began carrying it with him down the street. Ausby was walking away from the brothers, who continued to watch him from inside Eliyahu’s car.

After a short time passed, the older Werdesheim got out of the car again. What happened then was the crux of the case.


14 Responses

  1. Did the judge say why “the contact was not legally justified”? Or are we left to conclude that it’s because a Jew has no right to defend himself, and must allow any punk to attack him?

  2. Shomrim members do an extraordinary job. Similar to firefighters and policemen, whenever they do their job , they put themselves into situations that you or I would rather not be exposed to. They know this before joining and are willing to take the risk for the benefit of the rest of us.

    Usually the risk pays off. But once in a while…..

    This unfortunate story will surely affect Shomrim members everywhere who will watch themselves just a little more carefully and/or call for back-up before attempting a confrontation.

    My heart goes out to Eliyahu and his family.

  3. Milhouse, from the article is appears that the judge found it was not justified because the judge found he was not acting in self-defense.

    As harav kahane used to say, it is good that we have rediscovered the Jewish fist but it must still be connected to the Jewish kup.

    Looks like these guys failed to heed that lesson.

  4. Baltimore is a corrupt place, and this case has just once again proved this.

    Meanwhile, I would recommend all good hearted people just to stay away from any patrol group, even if it leads to more attacks on innocent people, but simply not worth being a good citizen & then sued by miscreants.

  5. Self-defense is unquestionably legally justified. This means that the Judge (right or wrong) did not find that the circumstances were those of self-defense.

  6. I hope shomrim takes this to heart. If you feel there is aproblem call the police don’t take matters into your own hand.

  7. Bottom line is that Eli was wrong. Nobody except law enforcement is allowed to touch or apprehend an citizen UNLESS he is being attacked. In this case Eli provoked the teen and he made first physical contact with the teen. I think everyone need to get over that. As for the jail time I would hate to it happen but its a reality at this point and we have to daven for rochamim for him.

  8. This unfortunate story will surely affect Shomrim members everywhere who will watch themselves just a little more carefully and/or call for back-up before attempting a confrontation.

    In other words, we’re all a little bit less safe because of this judge’s decision. I wonder what reason she gave for not believing his version of events, especially when there doesn’t seem to have been any evidence for the prosecution’s version.

  9. As a member of a neighborhood watch group, I was trained to observe and report ONLY. We are told never to confront anybody.
    Shomrim are NOT police officers and have NO right to arrest or detain anybody on suspicion.

  10. 1. He may have a basis for appeal since the judge denied a change of venue,which in light of local prejudice could be seen as denying him a constitutional right to a jury trial.

    2. He should have known better than to physically confront someone who wasn’t doing anything illegal (other than being a truant, which isn’t a crime). In effect he was making a “citizen’s arrest” which is legal, but with the caveat that one can be prosecuted and sued if the arrest isn’t justified. A policeman, in uniform or showing a badge, would have a lot more protection in confronting someone who might be acting suspiciously. Anyone making a citizen’s arrest is strictly liable if they can’t prove they are acting in a justifiable manner – and acting suspicious isn’t a crime.

    3. The patrol sponsored by the rabbanim (the “Northwest Citizens Patrol”) in Baltimore strictly insists that if you see something suspicious, you phone the police – who in fact have been reliable in responding. Given the Shomrim on its arrival thought that the victim was in fact the victim of a mugging, suggesting that Eliyahu was not acting in accordance with Shomrim’s policy.

  11. Nobody except law enforcement is allowed to touch or apprehend an citizen UNLESS he is being attacked.

    First of all, that isn’t true. Anybody may arrest someone whom they see engaged in a felony. Second, Eli W. says he was being attacked, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to contradict him, so on what basis could the judge have decided not to believe him?

    Acting suspiciously isn’t a crime, but when someone carrying a weapon takes a swing at you, that is a crime and you have every right to defend yourself.

    I was trained to observe and report ONLY. We are told never to confront anybody.

    That may be good advice, but you have no obligation to follow it; and sometimes following it means letting someone else be the victim of a crime. The idea that crime should be left to the police is antithetical to the whole idea of America. We are all supposed to be our neighbours’ keepers, and try to stop anyone from harming them.

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