John Schmid, Special to the AFRO
A Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officer was convicted of second degree assault and misconduct, the Baltimore’s State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) announced Tuesday.
The officer, Carlos Rivera-Martinez, with other officers, was ordered to clear the 400 block of Baltimore Street in the early a.m. of July 5. Rivera-Martinez claimed police ordered 16-year-old Melvin Townes to leave, and when Townes refused, the officer made an attempt to arrest Townes for disorderly conduct and failing to obey police.
Townes maintains that he left as instructed.
Rivera-Martinez, and other officers, pursued a running Townes to the courtyard of City Hall, by way of Gay Street, and made his arrest.
CCTV footage captured Townes, putting his hands in the air, turning to face the officers and surrendering. After Townes’s surrender, Rivera-Martinez tackled Townes and beat him with his taser.
“Police officers are trained to use violence as a last resort to de escalate incidents,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in an April 30 statement. “This defendant abused his power and victimized this young person after he complied with the officers. I am pleased a jury has held him accountable for his actions, and he will have to face the consequences for his behavior.”
Assistant State’s Attorneys Alex Rodriguez and Steven Trostle of the SAO’s Police Trust and Police Integrity Unit prosecuted the case.
Mike Mancuso, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, condemned the verdict, judge and jury that convicted Rivera-Martinez, in an April 30 statement.
“We are appalled by this action and see it as even more evidence that, despite our best efforts, we continue to work in an environment that is increasingly anti-police, enforced by a judicial system that feels compelled to strike out at our good work,” the statement reads. “As a result, Baltimore has become a murderous city that is recognized, nationally, not for our efforts to improve, but rather for our continued fall into the abyss of anarchy and lawlessness.”
Rivera-Martinez has remained on the force for two years since the video recording of the assault, but is now facing a BPD trial board hearing. The officer faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing for the assault.
“Those who sit in judgment of us believe that murderers can be changed with hugs and prayers. They refuse to see that police work and the use of force can be ugly, but necessary, at times,” Mancuso continued in his statement. “This, however, does not mean that the involved officer has done anything wrong.”
Townes was hospitalized at University of Maryland Medical Center after the assault, where he was treated for lacerations and abrasions to the face, and a broken leg.
Rivera-Martinez’s sentencing trial is scheduled for August 9.