A Prince George’s County, Maryland, police officer has been suspended, and prosecutors are investigating an incident — caught on video — in which officers wielding nightsticks beat a University of Maryland student, officials said Tuesday.
Authorities also are looking into documents filed by police in the case that appear to contradict the video, Prince George’s County police Lt. Andy Ellis said.
The video was shot March 3 after the Maryland men’s basketball team defeated Duke. In the video, students can be seen celebrating the win as officers in riot gear and on horseback are nearby. Some students are holding up their cellphones, taking pictures or video of the officers and the celebration.
The video shows a student identified as John “Jack” McKenna skipping down the street and approaching two officers on horseback. After a brief exchange, two officers on foot slam McKenna against a wall and he falls to the ground. A third officer joins the first two, and the three strike McKenna with nightsticks while he is on the ground as other students scatter.
McKenna had a cut on his head that required eight staples to close, said Sharon Weidenfeld, a private investigator working for McKenna’s attorney, Chris Griffiths. In addition, he had a concussion, a badly swollen arm and bruises elsewhere on his body. Griffiths’ office referred questions to Weidenfeld on Tuesday.
Another man identified as Benjamin Donat was also beaten, although that incident was not shown on the video, Weidenfeld said. On Donat’s body, the imprint of the officers’ nightsticks could be seen, she said. He also suffered a head injury that caused him some memory loss for a few days, although he will be all right, Weidenfeld said. “He really had his bell rung,” she said.
Weidenfeld discovered the video and would say only that it was shot by another University of Maryland student.
Authorities arrested Donat and McKenna on suspicion of assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct. Documents filed by police allege that the two were causing a disturbance and that they struck mounted officers and their horses, causing minor injuries, when authorities intervened.
“Arrested 1 and Arrested 2 were both kicked by the horses and sustained minor injuries,” the charging documents said.
The video does not show McKenna striking the mounted officer or horse, and the horses were not nearby while the beating was taking place. The documents tell a “totally fabricated story,” Weidenfeld said Tuesday.
Prosecutors dropped charges against Donat on Friday and McKenna on Monday, she said. Griffiths is representing both youths, and a lawsuit is planned against the officers, Weidenfeld said.
“The charging documents certainly do not appear to be supported by the video,” Ellis said. But he said, “I’m sure it’s a stretch to say it’s a cover-up,” saying it’s likely the officer who wrote the documents had a “miscommunication” with officers involved in the incident, who provided information.
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Article courtesy cnn.com