First-Degree Assault Charges Dropped For Officers Accused Of Beating College Student

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)—A judge throws out the most serious charge against the two officers accused in the caught-on-camera beating of a University of Maryland college student.

Derek Valcourt explains the decision came just before one of the police officers took the stand in his own defense.

The judge ruled prosecutors didn’t present enough evidence to prove the officers committed first-degree assault. And the jury heard first-hand from one of the accused officers.

Officer Reginald Baker described for jurors a chaotic scene in the streets of College Park as students rioted in the wake of Maryland’s basketball victory over Duke in 2010.

He says he watched one particular student, Jack McKenna,  break through the crowd and approach police horses in a threatening manner.

“I knew I had to get to him before he got to the horses,” Baker testified.

Using a riot shield and baton, he reenacted for jurors how he pushed McKenna into a wall and repeatedly hit him with the baton because he did not know what was in the student’s hands.

Though the victim suffered a serious head wound, Baker insisted he never struck the victim in the head and told jurors he didn’t even realize his co-defendant, Officer James Harrison, was at his side also striking the victim.

Baker wrapped up his testimony Wednesday afternoon.

Harrison will likely take the stand Thursday.

The jury will likely begin deliberations on Friday.

The two police officers still face charges of second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

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