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April 13, 2010

Video Captures Campus Police Beating University Of Maryland Student

by Doug Mataconis

It’s always a raucous time on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland after a basketball game, especially after a game against the Terrapins long-time ACC rival Duke, and March 5th was no exception as about 28 students ended up getting arrested for rowdy behavior and public intoxication. In turns out, though, that it was U of Md campus police who really got out of control:

Prince George’s prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation of three county police officers who beat an unarmed University of Maryland student with their batons after a basketball game last month in an incident that was caught on video and surfaced publicly Monday, authorities said.

County police also ordered an internal affairs investigation of the three officers, Maj. Andy Ellis said. Ellis said the inquiry would also focus on a county officer who filed official charging documents that are contradicted by the video.

“The video shows the charging documents were nothing more than a cover, a fairy tale they made up to cover for the officers’ misconduct,” said Christopher A. Griffiths, a lawyer for the student. “The video shows gratuitous violence against a defenseless individual.”

Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton said that one of the three officers had been identified and that his police powers have been suspended during the investigation. The other two officers will also be suspended as soon as they are identified, Hylton said.

“I’m outraged and disappointed after viewing the video,” Hylton said. “That’s not the type of professional conduct we promote. Any employee who uses excessive force will be held accountable.”

(…)

The video shows McKenna on the sidewalk as he skips and throws his arms in the air. He stops about five feet from an officer on horseback, the video shows. In the video, McKenna’s arms appear to be in front of him, but he does not appear to touch the officer or the horse. His hands are empty.

McKenna backs up, then two county police riot officers rush toward him from the street, the video shows. The officers slam McKenna against a wall and beat him with their batons. McKenna crumples to the ground.

As McKenna falls, a third county police riot officer strikes his legs and torso with his baton. The video shows the officers striking an unresisting McKenna about the head, torso and legs — more than a dozen blows in all.

Because they are wearing riot gear, the officers who hit McKenna are not easily identifiable.

In the video, county police officers and officers on horseback from the Maryland-National Capital Park Police are seen nearby. They do not intervene in the incident with McKenna. The officers form a line and move toward the students who had been milling about, the video shows, and the students move back.

The video also shows that the charges that were brought against this group of students were nothing more than a charade meant to cover up what is clearly a case of police mis-conduct.

Watch for yourself:

Fortunately for these students, someone was nearby with a video camera to record what really happened. If not for that, they’d be the ones facing charges right now

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  • Justin Bowen

    what is clearly a case of police mis-conduct.

    Mis-conduct? We need to stop tip-toeing around the truth. This kind of behavior is assault just as much as what priests are doing to kids is rape. These thugs need to be behind prison bars.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    Thanks for picking up my slack Doug; this is the first I’ve heard of the incident.

    It looks like we have 3 nominees for the 2010 Ramos-Campeon Medal of Valor.

    Disgusting.

  • jb

    Did the kid deserve a beating? Absolutely not.

    But the video shows him dancing like a fool towards riot cops who were in the tense position of trying to control a crowd, and he was probably not following their directions. So I’m not surprised that he found a bad outcome from that.

    Cops should face consequences for this. But then it’s easy NOT to be this guy. Don’t behave like a fool when confronted by riot cops in a tense situation.

    “God hates idiots.” – Clint Eastwood in The G, B, & the U

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  • Aimee

    JB,
    Are you serious? The guy was barely moving around. And they were trying to control a crowd!

    Were we watching the same video??? There were people milling about, but they weren’t rocking cars or setting them on fire, they weren’t looting or breaking windows. The situation looked pretty calm to me.

    It’s supposed to be a free country. If you want to dance like a fool on the street, go right ahead. I don’t care if the guy looked cross eyed at the cops, that is no reason to go ape shit and beat the crap out of him.

    Thank goodness for the person with the video camera.

  • Aimee

    Watched it again. He was moving around a little more than I thought, but my points remain the same. So what?

    Those do not look like cops on high alert and in a “tense position.”

  • JB

    Yes, I’m serious.

    You’re completely right – one should have the right to dance like a fool in front of riot cops in a tense situation.

    You also have the right to walk alone at night in bad parts of town, voice frank views about the IRA while drunk in an Irish bar, and, for that matter, backpack through countries on the State Department’s warnings lists. (What were those idiots doing hiking on the Iran/Iraq border?)

    And while I’d be all for punishing anyone who visited consequences upon you for making those decisions, I also would keep in mind that my own kids hopefully won’t be in a hospital bed like yours because I’ll be sure to teach them some common sense.

    I don’t mean in any way to say that the cops in this video shouldn’t be held accountable for crossing a line. They should be.

    But common sense says you don’t dance like a fool towards riot cops. Watch the video again. Like you, I can imagine the kid’s moves as completely innocent expressions of his happiness. I can as well imagine them as a provocative testing of limits, where we can’t hear whatever taunts the kid may have included. He may, for example, have had friends watching and he was dancing to demonstrate for them how little respect they needed to show the cops.

    I think, too, that you may underrate how tense crowd control must be. I’m not a cop, but I’ve got a lot of sympathy for someone asked to confront a disorderly crowd.

    I also have, tucked away, a lesson I remember my father explicitly teaching me: that cops were people like anyone else, but that they had guns and were allowed to use them. Therefore, he taught me that I should never run from, or mouth off to, a cop. There was no act I could commit for which he would not forgive me if he ever had to come get me from the police but that if I provoked a cop there could be consequences.

    And I grew up in a nice peaceful suburb.

    This kid’s Dad ought to have taught him the same.

  • tfr

    Yah, I’d have to agree, don’t provoke cops, or even do non-provoking things that they might interpret as provoking. If you want to know why, watch the video again.
    Not that it’s right for them to act that way, but it’s well established that they do, in fact, do so. And it’s also well established that they will lie to protect themselves, will investigate themselves and find no wrongdoing, and the legal system will side with them every time.
    You don’t have a chance.

  • Akston

    Looks like the officers involved may get their own beating (career-wise).

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