A Baltimore police officer, who is seen viciously beating a man June 15 in a CitiWatch video that began circulating this week, has been suspended while an investigation of the incident ensues, officials announced Sept. 16.

“This will not be tolerated,” Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said of Officer Vincent Cosom’s behavior at a press conference Tuesday.

“Much like the public, I was shocked, I’m outraged, I’m disgusted by what I saw by an employee of the Baltimore Police Department,” Batts said. “Nothing that I saw on that video is defensible, nor should it be defensible, and most importantly, it’s unacceptable and will not be tolerated within this organization.”

Cosom has since been placed on paid administrative leave. However, many are questioning why it took so long for him to be disciplined.

“The investigation has no credibility because no suspension took place until this incident was on the news and not a second before,” said Tony Garcia, one of the attorneys for Kollin Truss, 32, the man who Cosom assaulted. “The police department is in damage control.”

Garcia and colleague Ivan Bates and Tony Garcia on Monday announced a $35 million, seven-count lawsuit against Cosom, that accuses him of battery, false imprisonment and false light or perjury among other allegations.
According to police charging documents, Cosom said he saw an inebriated Truss loitering in front of a liquor store on the corner of Greenmount and North avenues and he asked him to leave. The pair exchanged heated words and Truss went into the store.

When Truss exited the liquor mart, he and the officer are seen on the video exchanging more words and Truss’ girlfriend pushes him away and toward the bus stop.

At that time, Garcia told the AFRO, his client was waiting on the bus to take him home when Cosom approached and began whaling on his client.

“The officer basically sucker-punched him while another officer held his arms, preventing him from blocking his face or otherwise defending himself,” the attorney said.

According to the statement of probable cause, however, Cosom claimed he saw Truss assaulting his female companion and that he assumed a fighting stance and clenched his fist when the officer rushed in to arrest him. Cosom said the altercation ensued because he was in fear of his safety, and that Truss kicked other officers as they tried to get him into the squad car.

Truss was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer.

“We see a pattern here—certain types of officers will strip you of your rights and dignity and charge you with assault when they are the ones who assaulted you. It is an exercise in submission,” Garcia said.

Even worse Truss’ attorneys said, the case reeks of a cover-up.

“This video was in the police department’s records. And, there was an officer watching the incident live as it took place.”

Bates said a middle manager in the department’s Internal Affairs was contacted by the State’s Attorney’s Office about the video months ago but dropped the ball.

“There was a communications breakdown within my organization. I had a middle manager that did not do the thing that they should have done. This officer should have been removed from the field immediately. I should have been notified immediately. We will also address that,” Batts said.

Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said along with Cosom, other officers at the scene may also be held accountable.

“Anyone who had identification and witnessed this – either took part in and either acted inappropriately or in not taking any action was neglectful – is a part of this investigation,” he said.

Garcia said as they get more information, other plaintiffs may be added to their suit.

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO