A Baltimore police officer was suspended with pay after a viral video showed him repeatedly punching a man in the face before body slamming him to the ground.
Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said he was “deeply disturbed” by the video published on social media, and that the incident is now under investigation.
“The officer involved has been suspended while we investigate the totality of this incident,” Tuggle said. “Part of our investigation will be reviewing body worn camera footage.”
The Baltimore Police said the incident occurred Saturday afternoon. It was not clear what provoked an initial police response outside the 2600 block of E. Monument St. in East Baltimore City.
Police said the second officer present at the scene was placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
Attorney Warren Brown, who is representing the man who was brutally punched, told The Baltimore Sun his client is Dashawn McGrier, 26. Brown said McGrier was not being charged with a crime but was rushed to a nearby hospital for suspected fractures to the face from the fight.
“Brown said McGrier had a previous run-in with the same police officer — whom he identified as Officer Arthur Williams — in June that resulted in McGrier being charged with assaulting the officer, disorderly conduct, obstructing and hindering, and resisting arrest. Brown said that in that incident and in the one Saturday, McGrier was targeted without justification by the officer,” said The Baltimore Sun.
“It seems like this officer had just decided that Dashawn was going to be his punching bag,” Brown said. “And this was a brutal attack that was degrading and demeaning to my client, to that community, and to the police department.”
The 36-second video was shared on numerous social media platforms by activists, community members, and journalist, shows a Baltimore police officer talking to a man on the city street backed up against a building.
The man, yells at the officer, “For what?” That is the moment when the officer pushed the man against the building, but the man then shouts, “Don’t touch me,” before the officer then unleashes a WWE Smackdown assault.
The officer strikes the man with a barrage of blows to the face as he body slams him onto the ground. Even as the man hits the ground, the officer continues punching the man. Throughout the short video, it appears the man did not hit the officer.
DeRay Mckesson, an American civil rights activist, shared the video on Twitter Saturday afternoon, which he asked for a response from the city’s mayor, Catherine Pugh. Since the tweet, the video has been viewed more than 300k times.
TW: Police Violence
This is a video of the @BaltimorePolice reported to be from earlier today.
— deray (@deray) August 11, 2018
Brown said Internal Affairs officers interviewed McGrier at the hospital. Brown had a conversation with the office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. However, Mosby’s office did not respond to a request for comment via The Baltimore Sun.
In a statement, Mayor Pugh said she viewed the video and “demanded answers and accountability.”
“We are working day and night to bring about a new era of community-based, Constitutional policing and will not be deterred by this or any other instance that threatens our efforts to re-establish the trust of all citizens in the Baltimore Police Department,” the statement read.
Mayor Pugh referred to Tuggle in a statement late Saturday, in which she also called the incident between officers and McGrier “disturbing.”
City Councilman Brandon Scott said the department followed protocol by suspending the officer but should have fired him.
“You see that video and you see what we are trying to prevent in the police department,” said Scott, who is chair of the council’s public safety committee. “It goes against the consent decree and the work we’re trying to do to rebuild trust between the community and the police department.”
In early 2017, Baltimore and the U.S. Justice Department entered into a consent decree deal that aimed to issue new drastic reforms for the crippled police department. The agreement via the Feds discovered widespread racial discrimination against black residents in the department’s policing tactics.