By Stephen Janis and Taya Graham, Special to the AFRO
A Baltimore police officer caught on cellphone video repeatedly punching an unarmed man is under indictment for felony assault by a Baltimore Grand Jury and turned himself in to authorities.
The officer, identified as Arthur Williams, is facing charges of first degree and second-degree assault. He has also been charged with misconduct in office.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said the felony assault charges stemmed from the officer’s alleged attempt to inflict serious bodily harm. She also said her office reviewed evidence in addition to the viral video of the assault.
“I can tell you we don’t just consider what you all have viewed,” she said at a press conference Aug. 14. “We consider a great deal more evidence.”
Williams resigned from the department earlier this week.
The incident is yet another scandal that has engulfed the beleaguered law enforcement agency which is already under a federal consent decree.
The video of Williams 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 Williams engaging in a prolonged assault of Dashawn McGrier. Williams throws more than a dozen punches before taking McGrier to the ground and striking him on the head as McGrier bleeds from the mouth onto the sidewalk.
Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle called the video “disturbing” and mildly condemned the officer’s actions at a press conference Aug. 13.
“My preliminary review of the public video is extremely disappointing to me, I don’t think there is any room for the activity we saw,” he said.
But noticeably absent from the discussion is Mayor Catherine Pugh, who has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
According to McGrier’s attorney Warren Brown, he sustained fractures to his jaw and ribs and remains hospitalized.
At the Aug. 13 press conference 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.
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 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 the police.
“The reason why my client’s mother is not sitting here is because she fears retribution from the police department,” Brown said.
The sequence of events that lead to the charges Aug. 14 prompted hand wringing by some about the progress of the department’s efforts to comply with the consent decree.
“You would think that with the federal government and judges, and a consent decree and monitoring team all shining a light on the culture of the department that would be enough,” said Baltimore City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett.
The consent decree between the Department of Justice and the city was negotiated after an investigation found police engaged in unconstitutional and racist tactics.
Since then, the troubled law enforcement agency has continued to confound the federal monitors tasked with reporting to a federal judge.
Last week in a semi-annual progress report, consultants working for the monitor said the department’s record keeping was so disorganized that evaluating the critical function of stops, searches and arrests would be impossible.