CRIME

University of Maryland beating trial: Verdict in for UMD beating trial

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Verdicts are in on the Prince George's police charged in the beating of University of Maryland students after a Duke game.

Reginald Baker was found not guilty on all counts. James Harrison guilty of 2nd degree assault. Not guilty of misconduct in office.

ABC7's Brad Bell reports that Prince George's County and the police department paid nearly $4 million to the 10 University of Maryland students roughed up by police during the March 3-4, 2010 disturbance.

The county paid even before lawsuits were officially filed. According to a member of the students' legal team, Jack McKenna was paid $2 million while the other 9 students split $1.6 million.

Each of the students was injured to varying degrees. Each was charged with crimes. Every charge was later dropped.

Many of the students were hit with police batons and thrown to the ground. Many had their cell phones smashed by police officers.

Only McKenna's incident was caught on camera.

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(AP/ABC7) - A prosecutor says two police officers abused their power when they assaulted a University of Maryland student during a rowdy post-game celebration two years ago.

But lawyers for the officers say their clients were merely "foot soldiers" who followed their commanders' orders and exerted legal and appropriate force. 

Jurors heard opening statements on Monday in the trial of Reginald Baker and James Harrison, two Prince George's County police officers accused of beating up John McKenna as students celebrated the men's basketball team's victory over Duke on March 3, 2010.

Calling it state's exhibit number one, prosecutors showed the jury the video of McKenna's encounter with police, which was shot from a dorm room window. As he skipped down the sidewalk with his arms raised in celebration, McKenna approached officers on horseback and was struck with police batons.

Defense lawyers said he ignored orders to stop and turn around. The state's attorney called it a beating and said Baker and Harrison abuse their power, violated the public's trust and broke the law. The two officers were indicted last year following a lengthy investigation.

Maryland grad student Nathan Cole was the first witness called by the state. He said the officers' actions that night still haunt him.

"I lost sleep over it. Just to see cops beating defenseless students so brutally, to the point there were puddles of blood," Cole said.

Cole appears in the video, just behind McKenna. His cell phone camera was rolling that night too. His version will also be played in court for the jury. Cole added McKenna was no threat to anyone that night.

"He was skipping; he was humming; fist pumping like kids do. His hands were down," Cole recalled.

In their opening arguments, defense attorneys mocked the characterization of McKenna. Attorney Bill Brennan called him "yippy skippy" and said from the officers' prospective, he was a threatening agitator charging a police line.

The jury began deliberating late Friday afternoon.

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