By Stephen Janis and Taya Graham, Special to the AFRO
Baltimore Sun The Baltimore Police department has suspended an officer after a viral video emerged that shows him repeatedly punching a man before tackling him to the ground. Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said in a statement Saturday that he is “deeply disturbed by the video that surfaced online earlier today.” “The officer involved has been suspended while we investigate the totality of this incident,” he said. “Part of our investigation will be reviewing body worn camera footage.” Tuggle asked anyone who witnessed the incident to contact the Office of Professional Responsibility at 410-396-2300.
A Baltimore police officer caught on cellphone video repeatedly punching a man, resigned from the department, Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle confirmed Monday.
The announcement came amid another scandal that has engulfed the beleaguered law enforcement agency which is already under federal consent decree.
The video made national headlines and prompted outrage in the community.
“It really shocked me when I saw how they did that young man,” Michelle Sterrette, who witnessed the beating, told the AFRO.
The video shows the officer, identified as Arthur Williams, engaging in a prolonged assault of DeShawn McGrier. Both Williams and McGrier are Black. The officer throws a barrage of punches before taking McGrier to the ground and striking him on the head as McGrier bleeds on the sidewalk.
According to McGrier’s attorney Warren Brown, McGrier sustained fractures to his jaw and ribs and remains hospitalized.
At a press conference Monday, Tuggle faced questions about Williams, who recently joined the force and was still on probation. The city’s top cop confirmed that Williams was recognized as one of the top cadets of his academy class.
But Tuggle seemed hard pressed to explain how his agency, already under the increased scrutiny from a federal monitor tasked with overseeing compliance with a consent decree, could continue to find itself embroiled in controversies over officer conduct.
“We want the community to know that these issues are not going to go unaddressed–when they arise we are going to address them. But I also want the community to know that for every one negative thing you see happen there are hundreds of positive things going on,” Tuggle said.
Meanwhile McGrier’s attorney, Warren Brown, painted a picture of an officer who seemed to fixate on his client and escalate tensions during a series of ongoing encounters.
He was also critical of the second officer on the scene for not intervening.
“If he had seen someone go after my client the way that his colleague went after my client he would have intervened, he would have made an arrest right then and there,” Brown said.
Brown also said that McGrier’s family feared retaliation from police.
“The reason why my client’s mother is not sitting here is because she fears retribution from the police department,” Brown said.
Police officials said the case has been referred to the State’s Attorney’s Office for a criminal investigation. A spokesperson there did not respond to a request for comment, but sources tell the AFRO charges against Williams could be forthcoming by the end of the week.