Police Brutality At University of Maryland, College Park

They tried to cover this up w/ a fake police report too……..sad. Full story and link after the “continue reading” joint………

(April 13) — Without the video, this might have been a classic case of “he said, she said.”

But there is a video. And so the case against two University of Maryland students accused of attacking police after a basketball game last month was dropped after the footage showed county police beating one of those students repeatedly with a baton. Now a new kind of accusation is being leveled, this one against the officers: police brutality.

“The video shows the charging documents were nothing more than a cover, a fairy tale they made up to cover for the officers’ misconduct,” Christopher Griffiths, one of the students’ lawyers, told The Washington Post. “The video shows gratuitous violence against a defenseless individual.”

On April 9, a Prince George’s County prosecutor dropped charges against 21-year-old John McKenna and 19-year-old Ben Donat. But for the Maryland police, the story doesn’t end there. Prosecutors are launching a criminal investigation into the officers’ actions, and the county police said it would conduct an internal review. Three officers have been suspended.

“I’m outraged and disappointed after viewing the video,” Prince George’s County Police Chief Roberto Hylton told the Post. “That’s not the type of professional conduct we promote. Any employee who uses excessive force will be held accountable.”

On Monday, lawyers for the students made sure the video, which was filmed by another student, went public.

Officers in black riot gear can be seen swarming in the streets, and one of them clearly strikes one of the students with a baton, seemingly without cause. He hits the ground almost immediately but is struck at least five more times before the police move on.

University of Maryland basketball games can be rowdy affairs. In 2001, a disappointing loss compelled a mob of angry students to maraud through the streets, causing more than $500,000 in damage.

And on March 3 this year, after Maryland beat archrival Duke, the big win sent hundreds of celebrating students into the streets near the College Park campus. Police made 28 arrests as they tried to clear the streets of nearly 1,000 students.

Last month, Hylton said the March 3 riot was “large, unruly and destructive” and noted that students were setting things on fire and removing street signs. In a sworn statement, county police officer Sean McAleavey said McKenna and Donat “struck” other officers and their horses, “causing minor injuries.”

In a statement last month, university spokesman Millree Williams said “the post-game behavior of some students is inconsistent with the high standards — in academics, attitudes and in behaviors — that we have set at the University of Maryland College Park.”

But students painted a different picture.

“It was like a war zone or something,” said Kerry Kramer, a freshman. “You just would hear like the shots going off, and you would just like start running because you didn’t want to get hit,” she told the Post last month.

A local news station captured video of students with their hands above their heads as though they were surrendering, and blood was splattered on the ground, although it cannot be confirmed that police caused those injuries.

And the tape seems to corroborate assertions by University of Maryland students that the police response to the mob, which included using pepper spray and rubber bullets, may have been excessive. It doesn’t help that Prince George’s County police are already battling a certain kind of reputation. In 2004, the department was under review by the U.S. Department of Justice for concerns over excessive force.

In 2001, The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a story about the suburban force’s penchant for brutality. “The cops in Maryland’s second most populous county had a reputation for turning routine traffic stops into Rodney King incidents sans video camera,” Coates wrote.

Last month, the University of Maryland’s student newspaper, The Diamondback, described the reputation the force had earned over the years among students, fairly or not: “For many years, the Prince George’s County Police Department had a hard-nosed image: Act first, ask questions later.”


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