BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore police officer has been charged with reckless endangerment and misconduct in office for failing to defend the unresponsive victim of an assault as they were kicked in the head by a suspect, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.

Officials said Officer Christopher Nguyen was responding to an August 2020 assault on the 4200 block of Kolb Avenue when the incident occurred.

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Nguyen first allegedly reportedly failed to properly secure or detain the suspect, identified as Kenneth Somers. Then Somers made his approach toward an unresponsive victim. Nguyen allegedly failed to take action as Somers ignored his questions, exited his truck and walked toward the victim who was motionless and bleeding on the sidewalk. Somers then bent down toward the victim and allegedly taunted them before he kicked the victim in the head. Somers was allegedly just a few feet away and did nothing to stop the attack.

“Our Public Trust and Police Integrity Unit continues to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions just as any other prosecutor in our office does when a criminal act is alleged in the community,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement. “I am proud of the Unit’s work as they ensure accountability, professionalism, and integrity of the badge.”

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In a letter to members, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 President Sgt. Mike Mancuso claimed the officer was charged “by our social activist State’s Attorney” without testimony from the Public Integrity Bureau or criminal investigators. He said the indictment sent mixed messages for officers seeking to comply with the federal consent decree.

“My answer is that we no longer know what we can and can’t do,” Mancuso wrote. “In either case, you may be criminally charged for nothing more than what you have been trained to do within the law.”

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If convicted, Nguyen faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000 for reckless endangerment. There is no maximum sentence for misconduct in office.

CBS Baltimore Staff