By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor, email@example.com
The world of former Baltimore Police Department Officer Arthur Williams, the man caught on tape beating the hell out of Dashawn McGrier in East Baltimore over the weekend, has changed at breakneck pace; seems appropriate since Williams seemed determined to break McGrier’s neck.
After the video of Williams delivering more than a dozen blows, plus a knee to the gut of the hapless McGrier went viral, he was suspended almost immediately. A little more than 24 hours later Williams resigned from the police force. About 48 hours after that, Williams was indicted on felony assault and misconduct in office charges, the same day he turned himself into authorities (On Aug. 15, Williams pled not guilty).
The events of the last few days, specifically the swift and definitive actions taken against Williams after the evidence of misconduct against him were on full display, would probably have been implausible, if not impossible, prior to the death of Freddie Gray. The resolution of allegations of misconduct against BPD officers have typically played out over the course of months, even years historically. Rarely have they resulted in the firing or forced resignation of an officer. Many times such incidents have ended with an officer suspended with pay, or assigned to administrative duties.
Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)
However, the BPD has been hit with a series of gut-wrenching scandals since Gray’s death, the subsequent uprising and the indictments of the six officers connected to his death; the Department of Justice report, the implementation of the consent decree, the revelations of the nefarious deeds of the Gun Trace Task Force and the still unsolved death of Det. Sean Suiter.
It has taken the near implosion of the BPD over these last three years to trigger seismic shifts in how business is done within the department. Maybe the indictment of Williams in about 72 hours is demonstrative evidence of a shift in the culture within the BPD.
Several officers connected to high profile episodes of alleged police brutality and misconduct in the last five years, including the officers involved with the death of Tyrone West in July 2013 and the officers in the Gray case, among others, are still working in the department. Williams got popped on Saturday, Sunday he was out of a job and Tuesday he was indicted by a grand jury.
“While I have an expectation that officers are out of their cars, on foot, and engaging citizens, I expect that it will be done professionally and constitutionally,” said Tuggle in a statement the day the video was released Aug. 11. “I have zero tolerance for behavior like I witnessed on the video today. Officers have a responsibility and duty to control their emotions in the most stressful situations.”
But, let’s remember the man who is really under stress right now, McGrier. He has retained Warren Brown, one of the best defense attorneys in the city and according to Brown, McGrier is suffering from a broken jaw, nose and ribs and he is currently hospitalized.
“What went on out there yesterday was not professional; it’s personal,” Brown told the Washington Post. “This is not police work. This is one guy beating up another guy.”
With the BPD still grappling with catastrophic events of misconduct the department should be commended for the way they handled the criminal behavior of a man who had sworn to serve and protect Baltimore residents. Hopefully, Williams’ plight will signal to the BPD’s rank and file that deadly and destructive behavior at the hands of rogue cops won’t be tolerated anymore.
Sean Yoes is the Baltimore Editor of the AFRO. He is the author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.