Charges Against FSU Student Accused of Stabbing Dropped; Student Remains Suspended by University
On Monday, all criminal charges were dropped against a Frostburg State University student stemming from an alleged knifing in September. The student, Zakiyy Jacobs, 22, a kinesiology major from Reisterstown, told The Bottom Line he is upset at losing a semester and the cost of tuition due to an academic suspension that resulted from what proved to be baseless charges; he is also currently barred from enrolling in the Spring 2015 semester as well.
“I just think it was all handled completely wrong,” said Jacobs, “I lost over $7,000 in tuition and books, and now I can’t graduate on time. And I’ve had my name slandered in newspapers when legally I did nothing wrong.”
Jacobs is currently serving an Administrative Disciplinary Suspension which does not make him eligible to reapply to the University until the Fall 2015 semester. Despite having all criminal charges dismissed on Monday, the University acts in accordance with their own policies, separate from state law; therefore, unless the University modifies their finding, Jacobs will remain suspended regardless of the state’s verdict.
Rather than facing the University’s judiciary board, Jacobs had agreed to the Administrative Disciplinary Suspension back in September because he said he was advised by Jeff Graham, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, that he would most likely be expelled based on the statement of charges written by Patrolman Eric Rice.
In Officer Rice’s report, several individuals, who all happen to be friends, each told the same story in officer-conducted interviews that Jacobs assaulted them with a knife; not one of them came to trial to testify against him.
“They looked like they were trying to get it all straight so they gave the same story,” said Megan Robertson, a bystander that night, who observed the group in what she described to be some sort of colluded effort.
Coincidently though, Brayden Parker, one of the men Jacobs allegedly assaulted, was in the court room that day for an unrelated traffic violation, but did not wish to speak against Jacobs. Parker and Jacobs even exchanged apologies afterwards.
“The only reason I took the suspension was because he [Graham] advised me to, so that I wouldn’t get screwed over,” said Jacobs, “I didn’t think I was basically saying I was guilty.” Jacobs is not upset with Graham, however, but instead with how his case would have presumably been handled had it reached the University’s judiciary board. “I never got to tell my side of the story,” added Jacobs.
When The Bottom Line attempted to get a statement from the University, Jeff Graham replied in an email:
“No employees of the University will be able to address any questions regarding a specific student’s educational record, including issues related to conducted, as mandated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).”
Jacobs was accused of wielding a knife, assault, a 4th degree sex offense, among other offenses, at an off-campus party at 157 Bowery in the early morning of Sept. 14. Jacobs turned himself in at the Frostburg City Police Department on Sept. 16th and was released from custody the following day after posting the $20,000 bail. Jacobs originally faced 16 charges, three of which were felonies.
The follow account of the incident is based on Officer Rice’s written report filed in Allegany County District Court in Cumberland. Note that Officer Rice’s written report primarily consists of officer-conducted interviews of Brayden Parker, Kody Knipple, Aaron Kern, and Maggie Granados.
Back at Police Headquarters, following the incident, Parker stated that he, Kody Knipple, Aaron Kerns, and Maggie Granados had arrived at the party at 157 Bowery together around midnight.
Parker said that the party was packed inside, so he was backed up tight against a wall as to allow people to walk by. Maggie Granados said that it was at this point when Jacobs grabbed her buttocks and said to her, “You look good. How’s your butt look?”
According to Parker, Jacobs then brushed up against him and asked if Parker had a problem. Parker replied, no, he did not. Parker went on to say that Jacobs threatened him by then saying, “If you touch me again, I’ll kill you.” After this exchange, Jacobs walked off, and Parker, Knipple, Kerns, and Granados walked further into the residence and were now near the steps, next to the side entrance.
According to Granados, when Jacobs returned, he had a steak knife in his hand and tried to stab Parker, but Knipple tried to stop it and was cut on his left index finger in the struggle. Parker and Granados were then pushed outside, but Knipple claimed that Jacobs held the knife against his throat before Jacobs followed Parker and Granados outside. Now outside, Jacobs and Parker traded threats before Jacobs returned back inside. Knipple, who was still inside of the residence, called Parker and told him he was cut. After learning this, Parker attempted to re-enter the house, but was denied entrance by two unidentified subjects.
The group, Parker, Kern, and Granados, then walked across the street and awaited the expected police response.
At approximately one o’clock on Sept. 14, Corporal Daniel Dunn of the FSU Police was flagged down by several subjects just outside of 157 Bowery; a large party continued on inside. The subjects told Cpl. Dunn that inside of the 157 Bowery residence was a man wielding a knife, threatening to stab several individuals. Upon hearing this, Cpl. Dunn radioed for backup from both the FSU Police and the Frostburg City Police who quickly responded to the scene in numbers; many police vehicles blocked the flow of traffic on Bowery Street.
When backup arrived, Patrolman Eric Rice and Patrolman Allen Zapf approached to the side door of the residence, while Officers Nawrockyj, Dunn, Bevans, Ruppencamp, and Grove attempted to make contact with the home owners at the front door.
As Officer Rice and Zapf walked towards the side door, Officer Rice observed a white male, identified as Kody Knipple, holding his bleeding left hand in a napkin. When Officer Rice asked Knipple why he was bleeding, he replied, “It’s nothing.” Officer Rice then asked if Knipple was stabbed by the knife-wielding subject inside of the residence. Knipple then told Officer Rice that there was a white male subject on the second floor wearing a black tank top, and that he had the knife.
It was later stated by Knipple that he had given Officer Rice a false description of Zakiyy Jacobs, a 5’7” African-American, because Jacobs allegedly had a knife to his back and that he was scared to say anything.
Jacobs unequivocally denied all of this.
According to Jacobs, he was angrily leaving the party after getting into an argument with a friend.
“I’m trying to leave, and the party is so packed that you have to walk sideways,” said Jacobs, “and as I was leaving, he [Brayden Parker] had his back against the wall, so we’re face to face, and he reaches underneath my arms and hits me in my back.”
When Jacobs confronted Parker about hitting him, Parker denied it, but Jacobs claimed he then saw Parker reach his arm out and hit him again in the back. The argument between Jacobs and Parker escalated, and Jacobs said, “If you have a problem with me, let’s talk about it outside.” Jacobs then went outside to wait for Parker.
“So now I’m outside, and he comes out with like seven guys, and I say, ‘oh, so you’re going to get your boys to jump me?’” said Jacobs.
According to Jacobs, Parker and his friends told Jacobs that, “we’re going to fuck you up,” and, “I’ll kill you.”
Jacobs said that he was pushed back into the entrance of 157 Bowery, and into the kitchen, as bystanders inserted themselves between the melee in an attempt to buffer the aggression between Jacobs and his attackers.
“The kid I initially got into it with [Brayden Parker], I saw him jump over people, and try to swing at me, but he hit my friend, Taylor, a girl, in the face,” said Jacobs, “Then all the other guys started jumping over people, swinging at me.”
It was at this point that Jacobs said a man he later discovered to be Cody Knipple, a friend of Parkers, tried to restrain him by pinning his arms behind his back.
“I don’t know if he’s just trying to break it up, or if he’s friends with the other kids and he’s trying to hold me down so they can get free shots on me. He just keeps grabbing me, so I throw him against the wall and then against the other wall. ‘Stop grabbing me! I don’t know you!’ I’m thinking he’s trying to attack me. So now I’m like, these kids are really trying to come at me. This is self-defense for me, because they’re trying to jump me; they said they were going to kill me outside. So, I’m going through the drawers and I grab the first knife I saw, which was a steak knife, and I grabbed it out of the drawer, and I turned around and just held it, between five to ten seconds. A bunch of soccer players that I’ve known for four years grabbed me and got it out of my hand. They got it out of my hands, and it ended up being on the floor.”
Afterwards, according to Jacobs,“Kody came up to me and was like, ‘Yo, can you come outside and talk to me real quick, just man to man?’ I knew at this point he wasn’t trying to fight me or anything. I never stabbed anyone, period. He was basically trying to be cool with me.”
Jacobs and Knipple then proceeded to talk to each other outside when Officer Rice and Officer Zepf arrived on the scene.
As Officer Rice was approaching, Knipple said to Jacobs, “Watch, I’m going to get you out of this.” Then, according to Jacobs, Knipple, on his own, gave Officer Rice a false description in saying, “He’s a tall, skinny, blonde hair kid on the second floor of the house.”
After the officers left without noticing him, Jacobs walked away and went back to his house.
Jacobs hopes that the University will lift his academic suspension so that he may again enroll at FSU in the Spring.