Two officers indicted for 2010 UMD alleged beating case
(ABC7, AP) Officers Reginald Baker and James Harrison are facing charges in connection with the alleged beating of Jack McKenna that was caught on video.
Police arrested more than two dozen students who took to the streets to celebrate Maryland's 79-72 basketball win over Duke on March 3, 2010. A video, taken from a dorm room window, later surfaced showing officers in riot gear beating student John McKenna with batons. Charges were later dropped against many of those arrested that night, including McKenna.
The video captured by an aspiring student photographer shows McKenna practically skipping down Knox Road. When he encounters a police horse he stops, backs up slightly and that's when the police officers pounce. You can see that McKenna is taken down and then hit repeatedly.
On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted two officers involved on charges of first- and second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
"These are the kind of things you don't forget,” said Jim McKenna, the victim’s grandson.
The attorney of one of the accused officers pointed to what he called the “riots” of that night.
“This case is not about police misconduct,” William Brennan, who represents Baker, said in a statement given exclusively to ABC7’s Brad Bell. “It is about lawlessness and destructive riots following University of Maryland athletic events… The citizens of Prince George's County and the University of Maryland deserve a lawful environment, not one overwhelmed by riots and destruction of property.”
Brennan said Baker had served “honorably and with distinction” in the Marine Corps for 8 years before joining the Prince George’s County police, where he has served "with an unblemished record" for 18 years.
When ABC7 first reported the existence of the video and aired its contents, the reaction from police was swift. Several officers were suspended, including those involved in writing a false arrest report.
McKenna, speaking as a grandfather and retired judge, isn't completely satisfied with the indictment, saying a third officer “got off the hook.”
The state and federal investigations have been anything but swift. It wasn't until eight months later that the FBI interviewed the officers involved and it’s taken a year and a half for the Prince George's County state's attorney's office to present the case to a grand jury.
"The Prince George’s County Police Department respects today’s grand jury indictments and is committed to constitutional, professional and ethical policing," said Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw in a statement. He said police is collaborating with the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney, adding “Maintaining the trust of our community is the focus of my administration."
The reaction from students is mixed. Many who have seen the video or even witnessed the events of that March night say police went too far. Senior Justin Herchelroach was there that night.
"Things got out of hand,” he said. “Above and beyond what should have been taking place.”
Some say police were provoked, while others say that's no excuse.
“I just don't see anything that could say that would invoke that kind of action from police officers,” said Marshall Jay.
Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.