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Prince George’s County Will Pay $3.6M Settlement In College Park Police Assault Case

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Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)—The criminal trial may be over for police officers accused in the caught-on-camera beating of a college student. But now we’re learning how much the county will pay out to the victim.

Derek Valcourt explains the county reached a multimillion dollar settlement with that student and several others.

A $3.6 million settlement will be split up between 10 University of Maryland students who say they were wrongfully arrested — some even physically assaulted — on the night of those riots after Maryland beat Duke in 2010.

“It’s been a long two years for me and my family,” said Jack McKenna.

The 24-year-old former Maryland student will get the lion’s share– $2 million in settlement money from Prince George’s County after cameras captured riot police shoving him against a wall and then repeatedly beating him on the ground with their batons.

Nine others arrested during the College Park disturbance that same night will split a $1.6 million settlement.

Those settlements were reached before a jury found Officer James Harrison guilty of second-degree assault for his role in the recorded beating. The same jury found Officer Reginald Baker not guilty.

“I think the state’s presentation fell a little short,” said attorney Christopher Griffiths, who represented McKenna and the nine others who received settlements from the county.

The settlement “shows there was a lot more to this that night than what was presented to the jury in the criminal case,” he said.

Though more than 26 students were arrested during the riots that night, none of them were ever prosecuted.

“I think the settlements went a long way to address the damages that the individuals sustained that night,” Griffiths said. “But it remains to be seen whether the police department will actually deal with the problems that led to the claims in the case. It remains to be seen whether they’ll deal with the underlying problems of police misconduct and police corruption that they’ve dealt with in this county for years.”

Harrison’s conviction on second-degree assault carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 14.

The police chief says now that the criminal trial is over, they will conduct their own administrative hearings to determine what, if any, departmental punishment the two officers should face for their actions that night. For now they remain suspended with pay.

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