National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

The John McKenna Case: Video Captures Baton Blows to University of Maryland Student

From the Washington Post:

The encounter between police officers and a University of Maryland student after a basketball game in 2010 lasted only 10 seconds, but how a jury interprets those moments, captured on video, will determine the fate of two veteran Prince George’s County police officers on trial this week.

The officers, Reginald Baker and James J. Harrison, are charged with first-degree assault and misconduct in office. Prosecutor Joseph Ruddy opened the government’s case against them Monday by slamming his palm against a wooden railing in a county circuit courtroom, eliciting a loud thwack.

“Did you hear that noise?” he asked jurors. “That was a baton striking John McKenna over and over and over again.”

Ruddy, an assistant state’s attorney, urged jurors to hold the officers accountable in what he called an unprovoked beating of a skipping, singing student during a postgame celebration on the streets of College Park.

Here’s the video:

According to the news article above,

Attorneys for the officers called the gathering an unruly riot that threatened to get out of control and characterized McKenna, then a 21-year-old student, as an aggressor who ran toward police with fists clenched, ignoring warnings to stand back.

The baton blows to McKenna were “lawful, justified and were not police brutality,” said William C. Brennan, an attorney for Baker.

Decide for yourself.

 

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