By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO
A Baltimore Police Department (BPD) detective who played a critical role in a high-profile case was convicted of assault last week for punching an employee at a Charles Village restaurant earlier this year.
Baltimore Homicide Detective Daniel Nicholson was found guilty of second degree assault and reckless endangerment for striking the employee several times after he accused him of assaulting his daughter.
But, surveillance video revealed the disagreement between the employee and Nicholson’s daughter was verbal. The camera however, did capture Nicholson punching the victim several times, according to court documents.
The altercation occurred in May of 2018 at Maxie’s Bar and Grill adjacent to the campus of Johns Hopkins University.
According to a statement from the victim the disagreement began over unwashed dishes. The dispute led to a heated exchange between an employee and Nicholson’s daughter according to court documents.
Thirty minutes later, Nicholson appeared at the restaurant, where he engaged the employee in an argument. Seconds later, Nicholson was captured on video striking the employee on the right side of face.
The employee initially retreated, but after he returned, Nicholson assumed what is described as a ”fighting stance,” and again struck the employee who fell to the ground.
The employee eventually was able to remove Nicholson from the premises and call police.
It is unclear if Nicholson is still with department or if he has been suspended. Police spokesman Matt Jablow did not respond to several requests for comment.
Nicholson’s attorney of record could not be reached.
Charging documents state the case was turned over to BPD internal affairs.
In 2012 Nicholson was embroiled in another controversy, again connected to his daughter.
During a search for his daughter in Baltimore County, Nicholson was accused of breaking into a private residence and pushing two occupants.
In 2014 a jury acquitted Nicholson of one count of fourth degree burglary and one count of second degree assault. A second charge of assault was dropped.
The series of charges complicated his key role as one of the primary investigators of the death of Phylicia Barnes, a 16-year old whose murder led to a high profile hunt for her killer and ultimately the discovery of her nude body in the Susquehanna River.
The 2010 murder of Barnes eventually led to charges against Baltimore resident Michael Maurice Johnson. Police built a case around circumstantial evidence including the fact that Johnson was dating Barnes’ half-sister at the time of her murder.
But, after a 2013 conviction was overturned, prosecutors tried him again. In 2018, Circuit Court Judge Charles J. Peters acquitted Johnson citing a lack of direct evidence directly tying him to the crime.
Nicholson’s conviction adds to litany of recent courtroom verdicts involving Baltimore city police officers.
Officer Richard Pinheiro Jr. was convicted of fabricating evidence, after he used his body camera to stage the discovery of heroin, which he used to charge a Baltimore resident with drug possession.
Earlier this year, Lt. Steven Bagshaw was found guilty of collecting overtime pay while at home in Worcester County on the Eastern Shore.
In August, Officer Arthur Williams was charged with first and second-degree assault and misconduct in office for the beating of Baltimore resident 26-year-old Dashawn McGrier.
Finally, former Baltimore Police Officer Eric Snell pled guilty to conspiring to deal drugs with members of the now notorious Gun Trace Task Force after a brief trial. The crimes occurred while he served in the Philadelphia police department.
Eight members of the GTTF have either pled guilty or have been convicted of dealing drugs, robbing residents, and stealing overtime.