The Baltimore police officer seen repeatedly punching a man in the head and taking the man down to the ground in a video that went viral over the weekend has resigned from the department, Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle said at a press conference today.
The video spread far and wide on social media over the weekend. In the footage, the man is nearly up against the window bars of a storefront as he says to the officer, “Then touch me…” Before he can finish, the officer starts throwing punches at the man’s head, eventually shoving the man on top of a set of rowhouse stairs and laying on top of him.
“Hey D Watkins, how has police and community relations changed in Baltimore since the death of Freddie Gray?” pic.twitter.com/kbg78Fp4yb
— d. Watkins (@dwatkinsworld) August 11, 2018
Tuggle said the officer, whom he declined to name, submitted his resignation last night.
Both the Baltimore Police Department and State’s Attorney’s Office are in the middle of a criminal investigation to decide if criminal charges should be filed, and during the press conference Monday, Tuggle said second-degree assault was one charge being considered. Citing that investigation, Tuggle declined to name the officer and his partner, who in the video can be seen meekly attempting to prevent the assault.
The department is currently reviewing the public video and body-worn camera footage from both officers. The officer’s partner has been placed on administrative duties.
Brown told news outlets McGrier had a previous run-in with Williams on June 26, resulting in five charges, including second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to online court records. Williams is listed as a complainant in that case, scheduled for an Aug. 22 trial.
There is reportedly video of that incident, which Tuggle said did not result in any formal complaint filed with the department.
In his remarks Monday, Tuggle said the video that spread online “was extremely disappointing to me.”
“I don’t think there’s any room for the activity that I saw on that, and it is extremely disturbing,” he said in prepared remarks.
“The repeated strikes to the head are disturbing,” he went on to say during questioning.
The Baltimore Police Department is still under federal monitoring as part of a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Such a flagrant abuse of police powers falls outside of the benchmark for policing set by federal authorities, Tuggle said.
“There is no room to go outside of that.”
Tuggle suggested the incident could lead to changes in how officers are trained. Even though cadets receive training in line with the consent decree, he likened the process to reading a book and being lectured at, rather than something “scenario-based.”
And in a case where an officer has a past relationship with a citizen, the officer can’t be acting on emotions, he said.
“If we get to the point where we start to go outside those lines, there really needs to be some intervention, either peer-to-peer or supervisor-to-officer,” he said. “And it’s incumbent upon those first- and second-line supervisory levels to monitor their subordinates to ensure that they’re not operating outside the line.”
Still, Tuggle tried to make the case officers were doing plenty good on Saturday, including security details at two Orioles games, the Moonrise Festival and AFRAM Festival.
“That’s the level of engagement that we want,” he said. “Again, this is very disturbing, but what’s sad to me is the fact that it overshadows all of the good things that the men and women of this police department do every day.”
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