2 Prince George's County Police Officers Indicted For Beating After Maryland-Duke Game In College Park

4:53 PM, Sep 20, 2011   |    comments
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UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WUSA) -- Two officers are being indicted in connection with the police beatings during last year's College Park riots.

Tuesday evening, Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks briefed reporters on the indictments, saying, "My office will approach this case no differently than we approach any other case."

PREVIOUS STORY: No Convictions For Incidents From U.Md.-Duke Game

Prince George's County officers Reginald Baker and James Harrison of the Special Operations Division are named in a 3 count indictment for a caught-on-tape beating after a Duke basketball game on March 3, 2010. On that video, you can see police officers overwhelm student Jack McKenna on the street. McKenna's attorney has said the student suffered a concussion and other injuries.

County police arrested 28 students in relation to the riots. Charges were later dropped against many of those arrested, including McKenna. Three officers were suspended -- Harrison and Baker were among those placed on administrative leave.

Federal authorities were involved in the investigation.

Baker and Harrison now face first degree assault, second degree assault and misconduct in office charges.

Lawyers for McKenna say the charges are appropriate.

Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks made the following statement Tuesday:

Today, a grand jury issued three-count indictments for two Prince George's County police officers. The officers are charged with First-Degree Assault, Second-Degree Assault and Misconduct in Office for their role in allegedly striking a University of Maryland student multiple times with a riot baton during an alleged incident on March 3, 2010 following a men's basketball game between Maryland and Duke.

I take absolutely no pride whatsoever in today's announcement. As the State's Attorney, among the most difficult decisions I must make is when to bring charges against police officers. The safety of our community depends so much on the solid, quality work of members of the Prince George's County Police Department. Charging any police officer with a crime is not a decision I make lightly. I also want to stress that the investigation into this matter continues.

But - when there is evidence of potential wrongdoing by a police officer - it would never be appropriate for me to look the other way. If I did so, the residents of Prince George's County would be right to question my ability to be fair and impartial no matter the type of job or the standing a suspect or defendant may have in our community.

I have been in touch with Police Chief Mark Magaw. It was officers from his internal affairs unit that investigated this alleged incident virtually immediately after it occurred. He supports the findings of his investigators and respects the decision of the grand jury to issue these indictments.

I believe I have a moral obligation to pursue prosecutions in a firm, fair and consistent manner. My office will approach this case no differently than we approach any other case. We will present evidence and a judge or jury will decide whether or not the officers are guilty or not guilty of the charges that have been filed against them.

I want to stress that our county's residents deserve a police department and prosecutor's office that work collaboratively to ensure the public safety of our community. Even with today's announcement, I remain firm in my belief that the overwhelming majority of the police officers in the Prince George's County Police Department perform their duties with honor, commitment and diligence. We all must continue to work together to strengthen our county and our communities.

The police officers indicted today are Special Operations Division Officer Reginald Baker and Special Operations Division Officer James Harrison.

Please note that an indictment is not a finding of guilt. It is merely the first step in a long process where an impartial grand jury has determined there is probable cause that a crime has occurred and that there is enough evidence to move the issue forward to the next stage of the criminal process.

These officers - like anyone else accused of a crime - are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty in a court of law.

In response to today's grand jury indictments of two Prince George's County Police Officers, Police Chief Mark Magaw issued this statement:

"The Prince George's County Police Department respects today's grand jury indictments and is committed to constitutional, professional and ethical policing. We continue to collaborate with Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks on this incident and on other matters impacting public safety. Maintaining the trust of our community is the focus of my administration."

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