Baltimore Officer Resigns After Video Shows Him Repeatedly Punching Man
The Baltimore Police Department has accepted the resignation of an officer after a video surfaced in which he repeatedly punches a man in the face.
The short video that was posted on social media and went viral shows a man with his back against a wall, having an argument with the officer on Saturday morning. Suddenly, the officer starts punching the man later identified as 26-year-old DaShawn McGrier. He strikes him over and over again — more than a dozen times — and McGrier does not appear to fight back.
The officer puts his arm across McGrier's head and neck and pins him to the ground as another officer looks on. The man's face appears to be bleeding. McGrier looks shocked and asks the first officer why he did that.
(A warning: This video contains disturbing, violent images.)
"The guy was just totally out of control," said McGrier's attorney Warren Brown.
Brown said the police were parked next to McGrier, and he was moving to leave just before the incident because he had a history with that officer and didn't want any trouble.
The police department has not publicly named the officer. It said in a statement Saturday that both officers "were working a special cross borders crime initiative" and that one of the officers involved in the incident was "familiar with" McGrier. The department said that when McGrier "was asked for his identification, the situation escalated when he refused."
McGrier was charged in June for allegedly assaulting the unnamed officer, Brown said, and a trial is scheduled for later this month. The attorney said he's still looking into exactly what happened in June.
Brown said his client sustained multiple injuries during Saturday's confrontation: "Fractured jaw, two fractured ribs, he lost feeling in his left leg." McGrier has started to regain feeling, Brown said.
McGrier was taken into custody and received medical treatment. He was released without any charges, according to Baltimore police.
Within hours of the incident, the department said it had suspended the unnamed officer who punched McGrier. It said late Sunday that the police commissioner had accepted his resignation.
The department has placed the other officer on administrative duties as it looks into what it says is an active criminal investigation.
"While I have an expectation that officers are out of their cars, on foot, and engaging citizens, I expect that it will be done professionally and constitutionally," interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said in the statement. "I have zero tolerance for behavior like I witnessed on the video today. Officers have a responsibility and duty to control their emotions in the most stressful of situations."
This highly public beating happened at a time when relations between Baltimore police and the community are tense. "This stands to be a significant setback in trying to mend fences between the community and law enforcement," Brown said.
After Freddie Gray died in 2015 following injuries he sustained in police custody, a Department of Justice report detailed years of abuses by the department. Last year, a consent decree was approved to overhaul the force.
Baltimore's mayor, Catherine Pugh, said in a statement Saturday afternoon that she has "demanded answers and accountability."
"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," Pugh said.
Brown said his client plans to take legal action against the officer and the Baltimore Police Department.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.