I remember when I first saw the video of Baltimore City Police officer Vincent Cosom beating the hell out of Colin Truss at a bus stop on the corner of Greenmount and North, while two of his buddies (who also happened to be police officers) held Truss’ arms and roughed up his girlfriend who attempted to defend him (the beating actually took place in June of 2014, but didn’t become public until September of 2014).
I watched Cosom approach Truss coming out of a liquor store, as the two men began to beef verbally. Truss’ girlfriend began to pull her man away from danger and hustle him across the street to the bus stop, as Cosom’s cop buddies approached. But, instead of allowing the incident to de-escalate, Cosom followed the couple across the street to the bus stop, apparently still yapping at Truss from behind like a small, insecure dog.
Then, as his buddies moved into position and Truss’ back was literally up against the plexiglass bus stop shelter, Cosom unleashed a barrage of wild blows, as he bounced up and down awkwardly, like a chubby, unskilled boxer trying to time his shots at his stunned opponent’s dome, seemingly growing more emboldened with each unanswered punch.
Where I come from in West Baltimore, we would conclude, `Truss got banked.’
A few weeks after the Cosom video became public, a now infamous front page newspaper report showcased the lumpy faces, swollen lips and blackened eyes of some of the mostly Black people who had been brutalized by Baltimore police over the years, costing Baltimore more than $6 million in lawsuits. However, since the uprising in April 2015, Commissioner Kevin Davis says citizen complaints about excessive force are down sharply, about 40 percent. And a new use of force policy for the department was implemented this summer.
Too bad the new policy was not in place before Aaron Winston encountered officer Alexandros Haziminas.
On February 21, Winston was partying at Power Plant Live! downtown when a skirmish broke out and one of Winston’s friends was being escorted out of the nightclub by police. As Winston, who is 5’6” and 150 pounds pleaded to an officer (Andre Smith) he happened to know personally for his friend to be released, his attempted intercession was answered violently by the 6’2” and 350 pound Haziminas, who yanked Winston’s shoulder out of its socket and broke his arm in two places (Winston currently has seven pins in his arms as a result of Haziminas’ assault and according to him, is left with hospital bills nearing $100,000).
“Mentally, I’m still trying to recover from the situation,” Winston said during the First Edition show on August 22. “I just want justice…and hopefully it will be served.”
Winston says, despite his arm dangling from the socket and being broken in two places, Haziminas still handcuffed him. Not only that, the behemoth rode along with Winston in the ambulance to the hospital and the officer incessantly taunted him all the way to Winston’s room, so much so according to him, that a nurse asked Haziminas to leave Winston’s room.
“I did ask him (Haziminas) for an apology after the incident happened…just like man to man. I knew what you did was wrong, at the moment he knew what he did was wrong and he basically (told) me to go hump myself,” Winston said.
“They charged my client for assaulting not only officer Haziminas, the big 350 pound ogre, but they had also charged him with assaulting his friend (Smith), who he had known for a number of years,” said defense attorney J. Wyndal Gordon.
Winston faced two counts of Second Degree Assault, two counts of Resisting/Interfering with Arrest among other charges and was looking at 26 years according to Gordon, if he had received the maximum sentence for all the counts against him. Winston was acquitted of all charges on Aug. 16.
“(Haziminas is) 350 pounds of pure aggression, fueled by adrenaline. This…beast of a man should not be policing in Baltimore City in any respect. He does not deserve a gun or a badge,” Gordon said.
“They just have this us versus them attitude, this militaristic attitude…like inhuman dispassionate robots out there. It’s just not going to work in a civil society.”
Sean Yoes is a senior contributor for the AFRO and host and executive producer of First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on WEAA 88.9.