BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When a Baltimore City cop went off on a young skateboarder, it was caught on tape. When it hit the Internet, it ended up costing the officer his job.
Alex DeMetrick reports the officer went to court Monday to get that job back.
When the YouTube video first surfaced, it launched a firestorm of controversy as Salvatore Rivieri confronted a young skateboarder at the Inner Harbor.
His actions led to his dismissal last year and into a courtroom Monday, challenging Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld’s decision to terminate him. His lawyer said it was department embarrassment, not wrongdoing, that cost Rivieri his job.
“In all due respect to the commissioner –I’ve known him for years and I have a lot of respect for him– I think he overreacted,” said Michael Marshall, Rivieri’s lawyer.
The department’s own trial board found Rivieri guilty of general misconduct and failure to file paperwork about the incident. But he was found not guilty of more serious charges, including use of excessive force, pushing, using a headlock and abusive language. A trial board recommended only a six-day suspension without pay. But the commissioner ignored that recommendation, and fired Rivieri.
“That conduct and that language related to charges that the officer was found not guilty of. So to fire him for that, you’re essentially firing him for something he was found not guilty of,” said Marshall.
Judge Sylvester Cox ruled Monday Bealefeld did not act in an arbitrary or capricious manner, noting the trial board’s recommendations are not binding. Cox let the termination stand.
Rivieri is a 19-year veteran with the police department. He was one year away from retirement when he was fired. As a result, he loses his full pension.
Rivieri has the right to appeal Monday’s decision. His lawyer expects that to happen.