Baltimore Officer Resigns After Video Shows Him Punching a Man
Posted August 13, 2018 4:40 p.m. EDT
A police officer in Baltimore has resigned after a video emerged showing him repeatedly punching a man and pinning him on the sidewalk, police said.
Police officials said in a message on Twitter late Sunday that interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle had accepted the officer’s resignation. It said the officer’s partner during the episode had been assigned to administrative duties.
Tuggle said at a news conference Monday that the department and state attorney’s office had opened a criminal investigation into the officer’s actions. The video, which was taken by bystanders and lasts about 30 seconds, shows the officer pushing the man, who is against a wall, in the chest, and then punching him repeatedly in the head before pinning him on the sidewalk.
The commissioner described it as “extremely disappointing.”
“I don’t think there was any room for the activity that I saw,” he said.
The episode prompted an outcry in a city that has been dogged with a history of police corruption, excessive force and public mistrust.
In 2017, about two years after Freddie Gray, a black man, died from injuries suffered while in police custody, the U.S. Justice Department and Baltimore leaders announced an agreement to impose greater oversight and improve training for a police force found to have routinely harassed minorities.
On the department’s social media pages, readers pushed for criminal charges to be filed against the officer, who had previously arrested the man in June related to an assault charge.
The commissioner declined to name the officer, who had been hired in May 2017, saying he was no longer an employee. The Baltimore Sun identified him as Arthur Williams. The department did not respond to an email Monday.
Just before noon Saturday, the officer and his partner, whom it did not name, were on patrol when they encountered the man, the department said in a statement. It said the “situation escalated” when the man refused to provide identification. Both the officer and the man are black.
“The police officer then struck the man several times,” the department said. “He ultimately was taken into custody.” But the department said Tuggle suspended the officer after it received a video of the confrontation.
“I have zero tolerance for behavior like I witnessed on the video today,” the commissioner said in the statement. “Officers have a responsibility and duty to control their emotions in the most stressful of situations.”
He said Monday that bodycam video was being reviewed that was “relatively consistent” with the cellphone video taken by bystanders. The commissioner said the second officer had a responsibility to keep himself safe because people were approaching “with sticks in their hand” and also to stop the other officer.
The Sun identified the man as Dashawn McGrier, 26. His lawyer, Warren A. Brown, said his client was used as a “punching bag” and treated at a hospital for injuries. McGrier was released without being charged, the department said.
Brown, McGrier and Williams could not be reached for comment Monday.
The episode took place on the same day that the department held a graduation ceremony for new officers. Mayor Catherine Pugh, who had attended the ceremony, said in a statement that the video was “very disturbing.”
“We are working day and night to bring about a new era of community-based, constitutional policing and will not be deterred by this or any other instance that threatens our efforts to re-establish the trust of all citizens in the Baltimore Police Department,” she said.