BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Police Department is investigating an incident caught on camera Friday night that appears to show an altercation between a woman and the officers downtown.
The video shows a woman swing and hit a police officer in the head. After landing the first blow, a second officer is seen holding her back, but the woman hit the first officer again.
At that point, the video shows the second officer hit the woman in the throat, knocking her to the ground.
Extra police officers were downtown Friday night due to a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
On Twitter early Saturday morning, Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott said while the first officer “showed great restraint,” “the response by the second officer is unacceptable period.”
“I spoke with (Police Commissioner Michael Harrison) who ensured me that he and his team where (sic) on top of it. I will monitor,” the council president and mayoral candidate tweeted. “I want to thank the members of @BaltimorePolice who supported citizens right to protest.”
The first officer showed great restraint. The response by the second officer is unacceptable period. I spoke with the PC who ensured me that he and his team where on top of it. I will monitor. I want to thank the members of @BaltimorePolice who supported citizens right to protest
— Brandon M. Scott (@CouncilPresBMS) May 30, 2020
The police department issued a statement Saturday morning, saying the commissioner ordered an immediate investigation into the incident:
“Last night, the Department became aware of an incident involving the arrest of a woman by two of our officers. A video posted online showed a women (sic) striking a Police Sergeant twice in the face and then a Police Officer striking her in the head. She was subsequently taken into custody and transported to an area hospital for an emergency petition. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison viewed the video and ordered an immediate investigation into this incident by the Department’s Special Investigations Response Team unit which is part of the Public Integrity Bureau. The Deputy Commissioner for PIB has directed a full review and has suspended the officers police powers during the investigations.”
Scott later issued a full statement reading:
“Yesterday on social media, I was made aware of a video showing a woman being assaulted by a Baltimore police officer after she assaulted another officer. While the officer who was hit in the face did not respond with force, another BPD officer used a level of force that knocked the woman unconscious.
“I completely understand the impulse of police officers to protect each other, but that cannot come at the expense of citizens’ rights — especially when interacting with someone who was clearly experiencing a crisis.
“What is depicted in that video is unacceptable and counterproductive to efforts to foster community-police interaction and deescalation tactics when citizens are in a state of crisis. I spoke to the Police Commissioner yesterday, who assured me that his team was on top of it, and I support today’s announcement that the BPD officer who used a disproportionate level of force has been suspended.
“At a time when tensions are high and people are expressing their justified pain to ongoing injustice and gun violence, I need our officers to be focused on keeping people safe. Again, I thank all of the officers who are actively protecting the right of Baltimoreans to peacefully protest.
“As someone who was at last night’s protest Downtown, I thank the citizens who expressed their pain and frustration at our broken system in a peaceful way. As protests continue this afternoon in Baltimore, I encourage Baltimoreans to make their voices heard while looking out for each other and our communities.
“I will continue to be out on the street and in neighborhoods listening and talking to Baltimoreans. Collectively, we are tired, angry and sad. We know the status quo is not acceptable.
“People need hope and reason to believe that they will have an opportunity for a better life, a better tomorrow for themselves, their children, and their neighbors. We have to pull together as one Baltimore to transform that hope into reality.”
The city police officers’ union issued a statement blasting Scott’s tweets:
“Council President Scott, it is reprehensible that you would use political pressure after a situation where one officer was protecting his colleague from further attack. Escalation occurred only after the female attacked continued the assault. But I forgot…there is an election coming up and your actions are straight from the playbook!”
— Baltimore City FOP (@FOP3) May 30, 2020
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young also released a statement late Saturday morning, calling the incident “deeply disturbing”:
“The video circulating online of a woman assaulting a police officer, seconds before a separate officer approaches her and strikes her, with what appears to be his closed fist, is deeply disturbing and is under investigation.
“I have spoken with Commissioner Michael Harrison and the officer who struck the woman has been removed from police duties. I’ve also asked Commissioner Harrison to relay a simple message to his command staff and to officers from across the City: sound, constitutional policing is the only acceptable way we’re going to do things here in Baltimore under my watch.
“I believe the first officer, who was struck multiple times by the woman, showed remarkable restraint by not retaliating as he was being assaulted. The woman should have been placed under arrest and not assaulted. Our system of justice does not involve the concept of an ‘eye for an eye.’
“The level of violence on our streets remains consistently high and we need to continue to stay focused on driving down violent crime and preserving life.
“We’re working to build the best police department in the country and we don’t have room for error.”