Good Samaritans help Md. deputy assaulted at traffic stop

The deputy had lost consciousness when a passing motorist jumped in to help, police said


By Mary Grace Keller
Carroll County Times, Westminster, Md.

CARROLL COUNTY, Md. — A Taneytown man faces charges after two passersby stopped to help a Carroll County Sheriff’s Office deputy who’d allegedly been struck by the man during a traffic stop in Keymar.

Master Deputy Brett Etzler was on patrol in his marked vehicle in the area of Md. 194 and Keysville Bruceville Road at about 11:09 a.m. Sunday, according to charging documents. While traveling north on Md. 194, he saw a vehicle traveling south, approaching in the northbound lane, charging documents state. Etzler pulled the police vehicle to the side to avoid being struck head-on, then stopped the gray Honda Civic that ran him off the road, the documents read.

The driver, Anthony J. Russo, 24, of the unit block of Windy Hills Drive, immediately got out of his car and approached Etzler, who told Russo to return to his vehicle, charging documents state. Russo continued toward Etzler but eventually stopped after the deputy gave him multiple orders, police wrote. At the deputy’s command, Russo put his hands on his vehicle, according to charging documents.

Russo was “verbally defiant and belligerent,” and became “increasingly irate” when Etzler said he would pat him down to check for weapons, charging documents read. When Etzler tried to detain him, Russo turned toward him, struck the deputy in the face and right eye, and continued to strike him as the deputy ordered him to stop, police wrote. During the tussle, Etzler said, Russo pushed and pulled him toward the police vehicle and the edge of the road, according to charging documents.

Etzler fell, and he lost consciousness when the back of his head hit the road, charging documents read. A passing motorist, identified in the police report as “Mr. Lissner,” stopped when he saw Russo punching the deputy in the head on the ground, charging documents state. Lissner helped get Russo off Etzler then laid on him until Etzler handcuffed him, police wrote. Another passerby, identified as “Mr. Grimes,” stopped to help Lissner and Etzler detain Russo when he saw them struggling on the ground, according to charging documents. The three of them got Russo into Etzler’s police vehicle, charging documents state.


Russo has been charged with first- and second-degree assault, assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment, obstructing and hindering a police officer, and failing to obey a reasonable and lawful order given by a police officer, online court records show. He was being held without bond Friday.

The Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company transported Etzler to Carroll Hospital for treatment of his injuries, which included swelling and significant bruising to his eye, bleeding scrapes on his back and the sides of his head, and a cut to his left elbow, charging documents read. Etzler also suffered a concussion, police wrote. He has since been released and is recovering, according to a Friday news release from the Sheriff’s Office.

“We are thankful to the two individuals who took action when they saw a deputy in need,” the release states.

Taneytown police and personnel from the Sheriff’s Office responded to continue the investigation. Taneytown police recognized Russo as someone who previously made aggressive threats toward police, according to charging documents, though he had not been charged as a result.

Russo is to be represented by a public defender, but there was no specific attorney’s name listed in online court records Friday. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Oct. 14.

©2020 the Carroll County Times (Westminster, Md.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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