MARYLAND

Officer Juan Diaz-Chavarria won't face charges in alleged assault

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A Laurel police officer will not face criminal charges after he appeared to punch a suspect wearing handcuffs three times while on camera.

It happened August 5 at the Laurel Station Bar and Grill on Route 1.

In video captured by a bystander, Officer Juan Diaz-Chavarria is seen hitting suspect Dante Williams after taking him into custody.

At the time, the owner of the restaurant told ABC7 Williams had been kicked out for acting belligerent. He was accused of later sneaking back in and assaulting a security guard.

Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office spokesman John Erzen says a grand jury investigated whether Diaz broke the law and recommended not to charge him with anything. Erzen says the state's attorney's office will follow that recommendation.

Video of the incident led to outrage from some after it became public. The Prince George's County chapter of the NAACP pushed for tough measures against Diaz. President Bob Ross told ABC7 by phone he was disappointed with the decision not to charge Diaz.

City of Laurel spokesman Pete Piringer says there is still an internal police investigation going on into the incident.

He says Diaz has been held to a desk job during the criminal investigation. Now that the police department has learned there will be no criminal charges filed, Diaz will be allowed to return to working the streets.

Through his attorney Jimmy Bell, Williams has filed a $3 million civil lawsuit against Diaz and the city of Laurel.

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