BALTIMORE (WJZ)–Baltimore Police are speaking out about the actions of an officer, caught on camera punching an unarmed 19-year-old in the face just before his arrest.
Derek Valcourt has learned more about what happened and the video you’ll see only on WJZ.READ MORE: CDC Releases Highly Anticipated Guidance For People Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19
Tonight Baltimore Police tell WJZ that the officer is still on active duty while police investigate.
Cell phone video from Monday afternoon shows Baltimore Police Officer Brad Chenoweth order a group of people to move along from in front of a McDonald’s at Howard and Fayette Street. That’s when a confrontation with 19-year-old Antonio Moore breaks out.
Moore was arrested and charged with second degree assault and disorderly conduct.
“I take this very seriously the police department takes this very seriously,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Police and the mayor unaware of the video until WJZ showed them. They’re now launching their own internal investigation.
“This video captures a small portion or one person’s perspective and we’re not sure how much detail was obtained prior to or even after the use of force incident and many times experience has shown that that’s also valuable to the overall investigation,” said Jerry Rodriguez, Dep. Police Commissioner.
The entire incident began several moments earlier when managers here at the McDonald’s called police asking for helping removing some disruptive people from inside the restaurant.President Joe Biden's Visit To Emergent BioSolutions' Baltimore Lab Canceled
In his statement of probable cause the officer says as he tried to remove Antonio and others from the McDonald’s they began to chant “f— the police.” “They became belligerent and refused to leave the area.”
He describes this confrontation outside by saying, “Moore began rapidly advancing towards me in a threatening, hostile manner. So I placed my arm out to create a distance and halted his advance.”
But the video appears to show the officer poking Antonio, then Antonio swats the officers hand away
Derek: “What went through your mind when you saw that video?”
“It wasn’t justified,” said Tamikio Thompson, Antonio’s mother.
In a WJZ exclusive interview, Antonio and his mother call what happened “police brutality”.
“I want him to get punished for what he did and apologize a sincere apology to my son,” said Thompson.
The ACLU says it appears from the video the officer escalated the situation. Antonio Moore and his mother say they are now speaking to attorneys about possible legal action.MORE NEWS: COVID In Maryland: Hospitalizations Under 800 First Time Since November
The mayor says in the last few years the city has seen a drop in the number of excessive force complaints against police and at the same time an increase in the conviction rate of officers at their disciplinary trial board hearings.