A Baltimore police officer has been suspended after a video of him punching and tackling a man went viral. The officer, his partner and the private citizen are all black.
The police confrontation with 26-year-old Dashawn McGrier took place around noon on Saturday on the sidewalk outside of Q’s Bar and Liquors in the 2600 block of East Monument Street in East Baltimore.
‘I am deeply concerned by the conduct I witnessed today,’ said Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle in a statement.
‘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. I have zero tolerance for behavior like I witnessed on the video today,’ Tuggle continued.
Dashawn McGrier (above) was identified as the man who was struck by a Baltimore police officer in a video that is going viral
The video begins with McGrier with his back against the wall, yelling in the officer’s face
The officer pushes McGrier against the wall and then immediately begins throwing punches when McGrier pushes his arm away
The officer, who has not been named, reportedly has a history with McGrier, the man seen being punched on the video.
A prior run-in in June ended with the officer charging McGrier with assaulting an officer, disorderly conduct, obstructing and hindering and resisting arrest, McGrier’s attorney Warren Brown told the Baltimore Sun.
Brown said that in both the June arrest and the incident on Saturday, the officer targeted McGrier without justification.
The incident began when two officers, who were working a special cross borders crime initiative, encountered McGrier on the sidewalk, police said in a statement that did not identify McGrier by name.
After releasing McGrier, the two officers approached him again to give him a citizen contact sheet, which police issue as an acknowledgment that a citizen has had a particular encounter with an officer.
When McGrier refused to take the contact sheet or provide identification, the situation escalated.
The officer grabs McGrier by the arm and takes him down to the pavement near his partner
The partner briefly tried to intervene but soon realized the surrounding crowd turning hostile
Video shows McGrier with his back against the wall shouting in the officer’s face.
The officer pushes McGrier back against the wall, and McGrier pushes his arm away, at which point the officer begins swinging punches.
McGrier tries to ward off the punches, but does not appear to throw any in return as the officer hits him repeatedly and tackles him to the ground.
The other officer present appears to try briefly to separate the two men, before turning his attention to the crowd of other men around and telling them to back off.
McGrier appears to be bleeding from around his mouth once he is on the ground. The entire incident lasts about 12 seconds from the time the officer pushes McGrier to the time he pins him on the ground.
McGrier was detained but was not criminally charged in the incident, police said. His lawyer said he had been taken to a hospital and was having X-rays taken of his jaw, nose and ribs late Saturday for suspected fractures from the altercation.
The officer who struck McGrier has been a Baltimore police officer for just over one year, the department said.
He has been suspended, and his partner has been placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
The officer pins McGrier to the ground as his partner stands over him
McGrier appears to be bleeding from around the mouth as he is pinned to the pavement
The BPD Office of Professional Responsibility and State’s Attorney’s Office are investigating the incident.
It follows several years of tense relationships between police in Baltimore and parts of the community.
The 2015 death of Freddie Gray from spinal injuries suffered while in police custody sparked violent riots. None of the six officers charged in the matter were found guilty.
A 2016 Justice Department report excoriated the city for ‘long-standing discriminatory enforcement practices by Baltimore police that allowed for illegal searches, arrests and stops of African Americans for minor offenses.’
The city’s homicide rate has spiked dramatically in the aftermath of the riots over Gray’s death, ending 2017 at a record high.
Following Saturday’s incident, Interim Chief Tuggle said: ‘Officers have a responsibility and duty to control their emotions in the most stressful of situations.’