A Baltimore police officer seen in a video violently arresting a passerby was charged with 32 counts of false imprisonment, assault and misconduct in office, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Thursday.
Mosby alleged that Sgt. Ethan Newberg, 49, had a history of stopping, harassing and intimidating citizens without probable cause between July 2018 and May 2019. That claim is substantiated by body camera footage, she said, revealing “a pattern and practice of harassment and intimidation.”
Many of the incidents from which the 32 additional charges stem, Mosby said, bore resemblance to the May arrest that earned Newberg notoriety.
Newberg, a 24-year veteran of the department, was already charged with assault, false imprisonment and misconduct in office in connection to the May arrest. Body camera footage released by the Baltimore Police Department shows Newberg arresting a passerby who comments on an arrest in progress, criticizing officers for making a man sit on a wet sidewalk.
As the man–identified as Lee Dotson–walks away, officers run over to him, and one tackles him to the ground before putting him in handcuffs.
After a few minutes of yelling–with Dotson restrained on the ground–more police arrive, and he is hauled to his feet. He asks what his is charged with, and Newberg tells him to “take [his] charge like a man.”
“You don’t know how to act,” Newberg tells him in the video.
Later, another officer tells Newberg to calm down, so Newberg tells him to leave the scene.
Newberg accused Dotson of creating “a hostile environment,” but charges against Dotson were quickly dropped.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison characterized the footage as “deeply disturbing,” and a manifestation of a “horrible culture” within the department, prompting the police union to criticize his remarks as a “rush to judgement.”
Newberg has since been suspended from the department.
Newberg was the second-highest paid employee in the city in the 2018 fiscal year—making $243,000 between his base pay and overtime.
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